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Call for Participants - 9th International Congress on Education in Botanic Gardens

20 August 2014

BGCI is supporting colleagues from around the world to assemble stimulating panels and develop inspiring sessions for the 9th International Congress on Education in Botanic Gardens. If the work you do is relevant to the topics below and you are interested in participating please contact the relevant person directly. Alternatively, if you have your own idea for a session you can submit your abstracts through the congress website - all proposals must be recieved by September 30th, 2014.


 UPDATE: New sessions looking for participants

10. Panel session: Role of Volunteers as Garden Interpreters. Do’s and don’ts
Panellist: Gaby Orihuela, Visitor Experience and Exhibits Manager, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens.
Session outline: much of the work performed at a botanic garden relies on the work of volunteers. The key to success is effectively using the skills and knowledge of these dedicated individuals. This session will outline how different gardens have relied on volunteers during the planning and implementation of various aspects of garden interpretation.

11. Panel Session: Professional Development in horticulture focused on Conservation
Convener: Keith Tomlinson, Botanical Garden Manager, Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
In support of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) Target 14; what native plant collection development or educational outreach is your institution conducting to increase the understanding of floristics, ecoregions and in situ conservation of plant diversity specifically to train conservation focused horticulturists?
Contact: Keith Tomlinson

12. Panel Session: Biocultural diversity and conservation
Convener: Christopher P Dunn, The E.N. Wilds Executive Director, Cornell University
Does your garden make use of and enhance local and indigenous knowledge? This session relates to education programmes at gardens and in their communities.  This is related, in some ways, to the off-ignored Target 13 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, to Article 8(j) of the CBD, and to the “Social Inclusion and Community Engagement” theme/key words for the 2015 congress.
Contact: Christopher P Dunn


1. Panel Session:  The importance of providing unstructured nature play within the context of botanic gardens and arboreta
Panellists: Sandy Tanck, Manager of Interpretation at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and Ian D. Edwards, Head of Exhibitions and Events at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Outline of session: The session will focus on the importance of providing unstructured nature play within the context of botanic gardens and arboreta. This would bring out the social, community and health benefits of nature play as well as looking at the challenges and benefits, from the point of view of garden management.
Contact: Ian Edwards 

2. Panel Session: What does a University Botanic Garden offer in the delivery of botanic teaching: boredom, banality or brilliance?
Convenor: Mark Paterson, Curator, Cruickshank Botanic Garden University of Aberdeen, UK
Outline of session: This panel session will be an opportunity to highlight the relevance of botany to people’s lives with the affirmation that plant sciences are a valued discipline and career.  A core focus of this session will explore how University Botanic Gardens must continue to engage people in valuing and growing flora, while clearly communicating the dual discipline of botany.  Such engagement necessitates the need to reflect on teaching methods and effective pedagogies, highlighting how engaging teaching practice in collaboration with clear science communication can promote and showcase interdisciplinary work across related subjects and departments. 
Contact: Mark Paterson

3. Workshop: Interpretation masterplanning
Convenor:  Satu Jovero, Educational curator LUOMUS, Finnish Museum of Natural History.
Outline of session: The workshop will introduce the International Diploma in Botanic Garden Education and how it has helped previous year’s students to develop an interpretation masterplan. There will then be a series of activities for the delagates introducing them to the processes involved in developing  an interpretation master plan.  This will include reflection on the successes and challenges of the process and discussion of how other delegates deal with interpretation planning at their sites.
Other contributors are asked to provide theoretical background and case studies which could facilitate comparison on the various approaches to interpretation planning from different gardens.
Contact: Satu Jovero,

4. Panel Session: Innovative ways to connect children with nature
Panelist: Emma Ausford, Devonian Botanic Garden University of Alberta
Outline of session: To ensure a lifelong respect for plants and the environment it is important that children are encouraged to develop and relationship with nature from an early age. This session will outline, discuss and reflect on the innovative programmes botanic gardens are developing to ensure that children build a rapport with nature and realise their connection with the natural world.

5. Panel Session: Professional development in horticulture
Abstract: Being inspired by David Rae’s talk on Botanic Garden Horticulturists – a threatened species, this panel will discuss how horticultural training offered at and by botanic gardens (such as the Horticulture Diploma Course at Kew) provide sufficiently broad knowledge to raise the profile of professionals, ensure that trainees can develop and maintain collections up to the standards and needs of users and equip them with the skills to communicate the value of plants to various audiences. The panel will bring different perspectives on the horticultural training including trainees, tutors and education staff. 

Watch relevant talk by David Rae: Botanic Garden Horticulturists – A threatened species

6. Panel Session: Engaging the public with research and theory: Science communication at botanic gardens.
Outline of session: As important sites for conservation and scientific research, botanic gardens are well suited to engage the public with plant science. What science communications does your garden conduct? Do you use interesting and innovative models? Could you offer case studies and reflections to inspire discussion and debate and provide examples for other educators in the field?

7. Poster showcase: Exhibitions in botanic gardens
Outline of session: This session will feature a collection of posters to showcase the variety of forms and subject matter that exhibitions in botanic gardens can exploit. From art and history to science and technology, from indoor exhibitions to outdoor installations and travelling road shows, does your institution have an example of an innovative exhibition format of conceit that could provide inspiration to others?

8. Panel session: Getting creative: How art can connect people with science and nature
Outline of Session:  Exploiting the arts, in all their forms, represent an opportunity to communicate with audiences who may not usually visit botanic gardens. From community art projects and interactive instillations to concerts, plays and performances this session aims to discuss practical and theoretical ideas surrounding how art can be used to engage new audiences or strengthen relationships with existing ones and highlight the relevance and importance of plant science, conservation and biodiversity to the public’s lives.

9.Workshop: Innovative public engagement activities
Have you tried any new ways to engage with the public? How did you get your inspiration? What this was an innovative activity and how did it work out in the end? This interactive session aims to offer inspiration to delegates and spark reflection and debate on innovative engagement techniques to allow botanic gardensto enhance the public engagement .

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