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Botanizing with Ben Goulet-Scott: Combat plant awareness disparity

September 26, 2023
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Image shows a magnolia flower backlit by the sun

As the days shorten and the air cools, it can be easy to forget about the ongoing cycles of our photosynthetic companions. But for Harvard Forest's Higher Education & Laboratory Coordinator Ben Goulet-Scott, "botanizing" is a year-round endeavor.

Many people think of plants more as a backdrop to life, rather than as a central part of it. Scientists and educators call this phenomenon plant awareness disparity – a widespread cognitive bias that leads people to underestimate the diversity and importance of plants. Botanizing is spending time alongside plants in order to observe and appreciate them as living organisms. As Ben says, it's "like birding, but with subjects that stay in place."

While earning their PhDs in Harvard's Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Ben and Jacob S. Suissa co-founded Let's Botanize, an educational non-profit that combats the climate and biodiversity crises by spreading curiousity, knowledge, and appreciation of plants. (Check them out on Instagram! @LetsBotanize)

Ben and Jacob recently discussed their work in The Conversation, where they shared ways to engage with a changing planet. "Botanizing is one simple way to inspire change in other aspects of our lives that prioritizes sustainability," the authors write. "Plants are everywhere and don’t move, so this can be done in virtually any setting, including your windowsill or sidewalk."


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