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Mixed culture: encouraging cross-disciplinary collaboration and communication to enhance learning

Verran, J (2019) Mixed culture: encouraging cross-disciplinary collaboration and communication to enhance learning. Annals of Microbiology, 69 (10). pp. 1107-1111. ISSN 0003-4649

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Abstract

Purpose: Undergraduate microbiology or biology students are not likely to be acquainted with the deterioration of cultural heritage. However, the topic provides an excellent opportunity for students to bring their existing ‘non-scientific’ skills and knowledge (such as history, geography, art, photography, and textiles) together with applied microbiology in order to develop their learning. Methods: A lecture on microbiology and art was given to first-year undergraduate students, who were then set an assignment to investigate a topic of their choice linking the two subjects, illustrated by a creative output. Results: The assignment enabled students to demonstrate their creativity, use their different talents, and engage in new learning. It proved very successful as a tool for engaging and inspiring the students to study microbiology and be more explorative in subsequent years. Indeed, for final year studies, some students continued to work on their ‘art project’. Interdisciplinary collaborations and new learning for the author have been additional benefits of this education project, with many varied outputs, including an ‘Atlas of Biodeterioration’, produced by researchers in the field. Conclusion: Biodeterioration of cultural heritage provides a rich focus for the development of informative and innovative activities in an educational setting.

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