Listening to the Earth


How might we preserve stories about organisms for future generations?


Eighteen students in the course LIBR 588: Theory and Practice of Oral History have presented an answer to this question: ‘Listening to the Earth’, an audio-based exhibit and online repository for this course.

The intention of this project is to serve both an educational and preservation purpose. Students in this course talked to nine researchers, experts and scientists on UBC Campues and asked them to tell stories about their favourite organisms, which resulted in all kinds of plants and animal species, from the very small (marine viruses and bees) to the very big (sunflowers and caribous).

The results were nine interviews that examine the interesting, funny, and sometimes sad, futures for these organisms. Students gained experience in interviewing, producing, and transcribing short interviews with researchers, and they produced a physical exhibit with a Museum in a Box, a non screen based digital museum learning tool.

As the installation of the physical exhibit has been delay due to the current COVID-19 situation, Dr. Hannah Turner has virtually launched this online exhibit, where visitors can listen to short clips and full versions of these interviews. As you listen to the nine interviews available in the exhibit website, they invite you to imagine what a world without these organisms might be like, and what stories you would share about animals and plants in order to preserve their memories.

To visit this exhibit and learn more about this project, please visit the Listening to the Earth site.