Plants have been the main source of food, fibre, fuel and medicine for thousands of years. The growing population means that more plant-derived resources will be needed, but as the arable land area is decreasing the required plant production will be one of the major challenges of the 21st century. Plant scientists will continue to play vital roles in future food security, ecosystem management and conservation.
One of the main challenges in promoting plant sciences is that people are usually taught in schools more about animals and human health, with plants having a lower profile. Many people then become fascinated by animals and human health sciences, before having an opportunity to discover plant science and the wonderful diversity of species and uses of plants. This is probably the main cause of lower numbers of students pursuing plant science and agriculture relative to other fields. A recent article listing 100 important questions for the plant sciences demonstrates the limitations to our current knowledge, and identifies important areas for future research on plants (Grierson et al., 2011). We will only be able to address future challenges in food security and fuel production by employing bright minds to work in plant sciences and agricultural research, supported by funding and facilities.
ASPS are committed to promote plant science education as one of its roles. This is realised by the development of teaching materials, recognition of innovative teaching of plant sciences, and the work of many ASPS members in plant science education at the University level (undergraduate students and post-graduate research training). The book Plants in Action 1 (written by ASPS and NZSPB members) is now available through our website, free of charge (and Plants in Action 2 is underway with Rana Munns as Editor). The annual ASPS Teaching Award is granted to an Australian plant scientist(s) making significant and innovative contributions to plant science teaching in our Universities. ASPS members actively participate in teaching in their own institutions, sharing of knowledge internationally via publications and conferences, industry forums, and also outreach to the general public via events such as annual Fascination of Plants Day.
STILL TO COME…
Resources: Links out to Plants in Action, teaching tools, slides or powerpoints, presentations, workshop and search of members with teaching as interest.
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