COSAM News Articles 2020 August Auburn’s arboretum helps faculty hold outdoor classes

Auburn’s arboretum helps faculty hold outdoor classes

Published: 08/25/2020

By: Maria Gebhardt

Auburn’s Arboretum usually brings the community together and now it is helping to bring the entire university together.

“Auburn University is the only botanic garden in the SEC to have nationally accredited collections through the Plant Collection Network, and our beautiful 13.5 acre facility is now helping to elevate the student experience during COVID-19,” said Morgan Beadles, director of the Donald E. Davis Arboretum.

“Morgan was absolutely fantastic,” said David Marshall, an assistant professor in the College of Education who held his graduate-level graduate education research methods course at the Arboretum. He was able to offer both face-to-face instruction and have student connect via Zoom.

Marshall and his class started off the first day outside at the pavilion. They went over the syllabus discussed different aspects of the course.

“The feedback I received from the students was great. I left the first day of class absolutely ecstatic,” Marshall added.

Matthew Kearley, a Biological Sciences Instructor in the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM), held his first BIOL 1000 class at the Davis Arboretum.

“The response was overwhelmingly positive and hopefully it established a better connection for the rest of the semester,” Kearley said. “Morgan has done a great job preparing that space to help with this and I think it was a great first day.”  

Classes are being held across the arboretum from morning throughout the evening.

“If students will leave this semester with an appreciation of nature at Auburn University, I think that’s a good thing,” Marshall said.

Chandana Mitra, associate professor in COSAM, taught her climatology course for the Department of Geosciences at the arboretum.  

“To me the Arboretum open pavilion is the ideal location to teach a climatology class, a class discussing the weather and climate patterns, and also maintaining enough social distancing. The plan is to have the climatology class once or twice every month till the end of the fall semester at the arboretum. Morgan has taken a lot of effort in making the pavilion a teaching friendly place. It has made the experience more conducive to teaching. I think there should more classes like this at Auburn University which would foster effective teaching for the students and a different atmosphere for the instructor too,” Mitra explained.

Students were able to attend class and be actively engaged.

“I found the outdoor environment to be lovely, and it was much more conducive to interactive discussion than Zoom seems to be.  Overall, if I could have all my courses in the arboretum, I'd be thrilled,” said Laurie Pisciotta, a student in the climatology class.

If any faculty are interested in holding an outdoor class or if staff would like to conduct meetings or hold office hours at Auburn's Arboretum, contact Morgan Beadles.

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