College of Arts & Science at Miami University
Biodiversity of Kenya
Gaining Field Skills in a New and Different Setting
(with Dr. Kim Medley, August 2010)
A full text transcript of the video is available below.
(In this video Dr. Kim Medley, Professor of Geography, describes the objectives of her course: Biodiversity of Kenya. There is footage of Kenyan landscapes and wildlife as well as of students conducting research and interacting with the local communities.)
"I'm a geographer and, actually, my specialty is in an area called biogeography. My interest is in studying plants and how they're distributed across geographic areas. Most important, in my own studies, is how humans influence vegetation systems and the relationship between humans and plants. And, in that sense, I'm a geographer because geographers always are interested in the relationships between humans and their environment and how that shapes different landscapes.
"The overall goal of this study program is to provide the students a broad perspective on the study of diversity in the country of Kenya. The first objective is to try to explore the natural history and diversity patterns in the natural environments as they vary across the country. In this way, we actually explore a transect of different settings in the country of Kenya.
"Also under the theme of diversity is to explore cultural diversity and that would include the variety of ethnic groups that occur in Kenya and some of their cultural traditions.
"A third objective for the course is to actually explore conservation and the diversity of opportunities that we have for conservation in the country of Kenya. In my course I really especially focus on looking for positive opportunities as to how we conserve natural resources and also support human livelihoods.
"Biodiversity of Kenya especially emphasizes gaining field skills in a new and different setting. How do you gain field skills? Well, one important way is to establish an ability to keenly observe new environments: listening to the experts, learning how to look across landscapes to identify animals, to watch their behavior, to understand why people do what they do in different environments."