What is Natural History

Annais-Rittenberg-keying-plants-in-the-Great-MeadowNatural history is the ever-evolving account of the living organisms and natural ecosystems of our planet through space and time. It is based on the systematic compilation of observations, classifications, and descriptions across all cultures in the quest to understand the biosphere more deeply. In our Western world, natural history forms part of the foundation of a diverse set of disciplines, including: biology, ecology, botany, nature education, and various artistic disciplines such as illustration, poetry, and photography.

Anyone who spends time outside observing the “more-than-human” world is a naturalist, or one who practices natural history. Certainly, many scientists engage in this practice, but so do teachers, artists, writers, musicians, and many others.

Professor Norris maintained that in order to study the natural world, one must slow down to nature’s pace and develop the discipline of observing, asking questions, and then observing again in an ever-repeating cycle.  Calling this process "spinning the wheel", Norris believed that coupling both observation and one's own curiosity was the best method to develop an intricate knowledge of and a deep emotional connection to the natural world.