A Human Sense of Biodiversity


The ecological principle of biodiversity is a rich one, and it potentially contains many applications to public education, both within a school community and within school systems. It is important to note that the term itself is vague, and this vagueness easily obscures any practical meaning when we attempt to transfer it from ecology to an entirely different field, unless we can be more specific about our usage of the term.

When I think of biodiversity, I think of species interacting with one another to create a whole — an eco-system — far greater than the sum of its parts. I also think of the richness of organically cultivated soil, the density of diverse microbes that sustain healthy plant life and retains water. Simple enough, then, to use the term in the sense of an ecosystem.

But when we extend biodiversity into the metaphorical realm of schools as ecosystems, this idea of “species” or “microbial life” doesn’t transfer so well into human equivalents.

At first glance, it seems obvious that we could translate biodiversity directly to the term “diversity,” and hence apply it to the idea of different races and genders interacting together. But it’s also perhaps too easy to say that demographics alone represent diversity. Human beings differ from one another in a multiplicity of ways, based on life experiences, habits, values, and goals.

How would you interpret the idea of biodiversity in a human community?

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