Foundations of the Open Science Network in Ethnobiology

OSN is a dynamic “open science” network which promotes ethnobotanical education through the use of web-based technologies and the continual exchange of educational techniques, materials, and experiences across institutional and international borders. The project was funded by the National Science Foundation and is a Research Coordination Networks in Biological Sciences (RCN) Undergraduate Biology Education (UBE) award.

OSN uses an “open-philosophy” approach which supports a perpetual network generating science curriculum through team efforts of universities, science institutions, educators and students (including non-traditional), using an open-group evaluation model similar to open-source software. Unlike a static repository of information, the system’s technological capabilities will be flexible enough to house the collective knowledge of both expert and user and evolve as the knowledge and needs change.

Background Information

NSF Proposal
The NSF project provides a focus for the OSN efforts and supports our ability to share. The NSF proposal is available to everyone to see how this project was first conceptualized.

Like all good projects, the OSN effort has evolved. Some things have worked while other things have not worked. We have adjusted some of our mechanisms for collaboration and feel that we are more efficient and can deliver a better product to the ethnobotanical community.

A workshop was held May 30, 2009 and all the participants were divided into small groups. Each group was tasked with writing a mission statement for the project. As expected, the resulting mission statements varied greatly. When we tried to reconcile all of these statements into a single one, we faced a nearly-impossible task. It was suggested that we should combine the text with a “wordle.” The result (shown on the link) seems to capture the spirit of the project.

OSN participants are passionate about teaching. They are also embedded in a discipline in which ethical behavior is extremely important.

We also believe in helping each other. This is an intrinsic part of our discipline. As researchers, we ask other people for information. We are obliged to return the favor by trying to do something for those people who have helped us. It is only natural that we carry our research philosophy into our teaching activities.

Early in the development of this project we created a philosophical statement that provides general guidance regarding curriculum matters.

Core Members of the OSN Network

Pat Harrison, PI (Botanical Research Institute of Texas)
Will McClatchey, Co-PI (Botanical Research Institute of Texas)
Keri Barfield, Project Manager (Botanical Research Institute of Texas)
Karen Hall (Botanical Research Institute of Texas)
Sunshine Brosi, Co-PI (Frostburg State University)
Kim Bridges (retired University of Hawai`i at Manoa)
Gail Wagner (University of South Carolina)
Laura Sheils (University of Hawai`i at Hilo)
Sonia Vougioukalou (Canterbury Christ Church University)
Cassandra Quave (Emory University)
Rainer Bussmann (William L. Brown Center, Missouri Botanical Garden)
Karen Walker (Formerly with the William L. Brown Center, Missouri Botanical Garden)
Ashley Morris (Middle Tennessee State University)
Ryan Huish (Hollins University)