Ecology focuses on the relationships between the living creatures in an ecosystem, so it makes sense to think about ecology on a local scale.
Ecology topics within Canada got a boost on Wikipedia thanks to University of British Columbia students in Dr. Rosie Redfield’s Human Ecology course. In that course, students created a variety of projects, including a community project, a YouTube presentation, and, in pairs, they tackled Wikipedia articles.
They ended up working on 52 articles, improving information about ecology and the environment in a variety of Canadian contexts. These students aren’t biology majors, and the work they do is aimed at using the knowledge they learn about human ecology to better inform the public.
For example: Where does your drinking water come from? Students answered that question for 2.4 million people when they created the Wikipedia article on the Metro Vancouver watersheds. That article details the drinking water supply for many residents of British Columbia. The article describes the dimensions of the watershed, but also describes logging and fishing controversies that surround it.
Sometimes water comes from beneath your feet. But sometimes, it comes from the sky. So students also created an article on rainwater harvests in Canada. This one describes property rights in various provinces, applications of the practice, and a list of impacts and benefits.
Those are some examples of ecology applied to human impacts on the environment. Other articles focus on outlines of the ecology of places. For example, the article about Vancouver’s Everett Crowley Park describes the area prior to its use as a landfill, and afterward, when it was reclaimed as a public park. The article discusses changes in animal populations, such as the disappearance of salmon and cedar trees and the invasion of blackberry bushes.
Another interesting example is an article focused exclusively on the relationship between the indigenous Coast Salish people, a First Nation found along the Canadian Pacific coast, and salmon. The article explores the relationship between the Coast Salish and salmon, and the importance of salmon in daily life.
These are some great examples of students taking knowledge they’ve learned in a classroom, and applying it to articles that inform the public about aspects of the world around them. It’s a science communication experience that improves resources for local communities.
It’s one of the many possibilities that can emerge from adding a Wikipedia course assignment to an ecology course. Wiki Ed can help you get started. We have a variety of online tools for students to show them the way. That includes a free, printed handbook specifically aimed at student editors writing Wikipedia articles on ecology.
Want to find out more? Check our resources, or send an e-mail to: email@example.com.
Photo: Tanks for rainwater harvesting by JLPC / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0.