I've been involved in several major initiatives focusing on the revitalization of natural history--
"the practice of intentional, focused attentiveness to the more-than-human world, guided by honesty and accuracy"
Natural History Institute
I was the founding Director of the Natural History Institute, at Prescott College. We strive to integrate art, science, and humanities in our approach to natural history--demonstrating that natural history is larger than science alone. In addition to scientific collections, research facilities, and a teaching lab, the Institute features our Natural History Gallery, which exhibits part of the college's Josephine Michell Arader Collection of natural history art, including a permanent collection of works by John James Audubon. We also host distinguished lectures and field excursions. As of July 2017, the Institute will function as an independent, nonprofit organization-- still in collaboration with Prescott College.
My short article, "The Oldest Tradition," on the legacy of natural history at Prescott College, and the birth of the Institute: pdf
The Future of Field Studies
I'm the Principal Investigator on a National Science Foundation project to reverse the growing trend away from field studies in biology and ecology education. This on-going project, "The Decline in Field Studies: Proactive Strategies for Essential Training for the Next Generation of Biological Researchers," has convened a working group of practitioners from a wide variety of institutions to assess these trends, their possible causes, and to suggest strategies to revitalize field studies in American higher education. Where else better to learn how living systems work than in the field, directly immersed in nature?
The Natural History Initiative
With my colleagues Josh Tewksbury and Kirsten Rowell, I was a Principal Investigator on this project--funded by the National Science Foundation (a collaborative grant to the University of Washington and Prescott College) and the University of Washington College of the Environment, with additional support from Prescott College, Canon-USA, and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis. We convened four gatherings of prominent and upcoming naturalists of diverse backgrounds--research scientists, visual artists, poets, psychologists, and more--to consider pathways toward revitalization of natural history in the 21st century.
The Natural Histories Project
A direct outcome of the Natural History Initiative, this exciting media project, developed by the creative talents of Benjamin Drummond and Sara Joy Steele of bdsjs.com, documents conversations between naturalists at these gatherings, in audio clips accompanied by black & white photography. This project has been featured at the annual conference of the Ecological Society of America and at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival.
Natural History Network
I was the founding President of the Natural HIstory Network, a national & international non-profit committed to revitalizing the practice of natural history in academia, the sciences, and culture at large.
My Writings on the Importance of Natural History:
Fleischner, T.L. 2014. An invitation to attentiveness and imagination. Questions for a Resilient Future series, Center for Humans & Nature. http://www.humansandnature.org/earth-ethic---thomas-lowe-fleischner-response-97.php.
Fleischner, T.L., T. Wessels, R.E. Grumbine, and S. Weisberg. 2013. Toward transformative natural history education: a few principles. Journal of Natural History Education and Experience 7: 1-3. [pdf]
Fleischner, T.L. 2012. Natural history: the taproot of ecology. Pages 20-21 in R. Sagarin and A. Pauchard, eds. Observation and ecology: broadening the scope of science to understand a complex world. Island Press, Washington, D.C. [pdf]
Fleischner, T.L. 2011. Why natural history matters. Journal of Natural History Education and Experience 5: 21-24. [pdf]
Fleischner, T.L., editor. 2011. The Way of Natural History. Trinity University Press, San Antonio, Texas.
Fleischner, T.L. 2011. The mindfulness of natural history. Pages 3-15 in T.L. Fleischner, ed. The Way of Natural History. Trinity University Press, San Antonio, TX. [pdf]
Trombulak, S.C. and T.L. Fleischner. 2007. Natural history renaissance. Journal of Natural History Education 1: 1-4. [pdf]
Fleischner, T.L. 2005. Natural history and the deep roots of resource management.Natural Resources Journal 45: 1-13. [pdf]
Fleischner, T.L. 2001. Natural history and the spiral of offering. Wild Earth 11 (3/4)[Fall/Winter]: 10-13. [pdf]
Fleischner, T.L. 1999. Revitalizing natural history. Wild Earth 9(2) [Summer]: 81-89. [pdf]
(See other writings in Publications)