“How are we going to manage the planet and keep it sustainable if we know so little about it?”
This question, posed by E.O. Wilson in his book, Letters to a Young Scientist, was born out of his long held conviction that if we can foster a greater understanding of biology, we can create a greater sense of wonder about our planet and, in turn, cultivate a desire to explore it and learn what we need to know to take care of it.
The E.O. Wilson Foundation believes that high quality biology lessons should be available for free to anyone, anytime, anywhere. Why shouldn’t a class in Kenya or Paraguay receive a substantial part of the same instruction available to students in a prep school in Connecticut?
With that dream guiding us, we launched the first grand project and educational pillar of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth. This pioneering digital textbook, launched in 2014, allows students around the world to engage with biology through interactive media and animation. Using this free book, students can see photosynthesis in a leaf; watch DNA replicate; and explore biodiversity, the intricate relationships that are vital to the health of our planet.
The E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation is dedicated to expanding knowledge of biodiversity in order to foster care for the living world. Our educational initiatives like Life on Earth are building a foundation for citizen engagement in stewardship.
In this same spirit, we also created the Collaborative Storytelling Project, which uses photographs, videos, and web-based projects to capture students’ voices about their discoveries in nature, and how they are transformed by these experiences.
One video from this project, “Inspired by Nature,” was featured in National Geographic Kids.
Through the Collaborative Storytelling Project, we’ve learned something important too—encouraging students to share their stories with us empowers them to communicate with their peers, families, and communities. It’s exciting to witness the wisdom and discoveries of these next generation environmental leaders.
Remarkably, Life on Earth has now been downloaded more than one million times. Its popularity speaks to a widespread desire to learn about our world. It is this heartfelt quest for knowledge that will inspire the grassroots network of environmental stewards that is key to conserving biodiversity and caring for our planet.
Paula J. Ehrlich, DVM, PhD is President & CEO of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, which is dedicated to expanding knowledge and understanding of biodiversity in all its detail and complexity. They champion research and education initiatives that inform conservation efforts and cultivate awareness as a key foundation for citizen engagement and inspired care of our planet. They work to promote the protection of biodiversity as a moral imperative and advocate that universal conservation should be one of humanity’s transcendent goals.