Historically looking the first precursors of the botanical gardens, as we know them today, were medicinal gardens in Europe, their solemn raison d’etre was studying medicinal plants .Most Italian universities in 16.th century owned such gardens. With big discoveries new era for botanical gardens came, they started to collect and cultivate new species from new territories. (1)
Ljubljana botanical garden was established during the time of Illyrian provinces, general Marmont’s decree of July, 04, 1810 in article 9 refers that a central school with library, physics and a chemistry cabinets and a botanical garden shall be founded. As at this time Slovenian language entered public institutions for the first time the meaning of botanical garden was not only collecting and studying flora from the place and abroad but also symbolical, building national identity through the use of Slovene language. And we may say IGL took place there already at that time. Professor of botany Hladnik who run the botanical garden at its beginnings took on as a gardening apprentice a fourteen year old boy, Fleischmann, who wandered with him, bringing plants from different parts of country. Much later the management of the garden was entrusted to Fleischmann, who also took over the botanical lectures.
It is a paradox, that after their onset, when botanical gardens played a strong intellectual role in their environment, fostering academically study, they felt to a merely unimportant subject in their environment of recent history. Their role as collectors of different species is too often under stated, their educational role being too often only in simplistic education message for kindergarten and school groups. Even their role as a place for amusement and recreation fade away, as there are so many more attractive spaces for consumer society of nowadays.
And this paradox seems even bigger on close examination of numerous potentials botanical gardens do have for learning society of 21st century.
Intergenerational learning may be able to solve this paradox.
In next lines the main domains of influence of IGL in botanical gardens are described:
1. Influence on human (individual) development-IGL in botanical gardens:
-fosters individual knowledge of botany, environment, ecology, biodiversity, extinct species, climatic change, pollution, ecosystems, alien species
-teaches learning skills, promote learning and teaching
-provides better skills for giving and recieving social support
-increases self esteem
-helps build pro-social life values
-raises community sense
-helps build nature oriented healthy lifestyle
-raises responsibility towards environment
2. Influence on community life-IGL in botanical gardens:
–contributes to community cohesion
-establishes environment-friendly culture
-promotes sustainable values, makes community life better (teaching about pollution, water
Recycling, eco-friendly gardening etc.)
-helps fighting poverty (gardening lessons, growing vegetables, fruit)
-increases local (government) responsiveness to the needs of local interests
-increases youth and older adult inclusion
-promotes inclusion of migrants (teaching / learning different growing techniques)
-help stakeholder groups to see biodiversity, pollution, ecology, sustainability as valuable frames for their local action
-increases community spirit (our botanical garden-our neighbourhood-our city-our planet)
3. Influence at national level-IGL in botanical gardens:
–builds an environment-friendly society
–implements values of sustainability through generations
–builds a prejudice-free society, open to diverse values, with respect across age, ethnic and race lines
–impacts on institutions (educational, environmental, health)
–increases communication and collaboration among diverse fields of life (culture, natural sciences, social sciences etc.)
4. Influence on international relations-trough IGL in botanical gardens laypersons and professionals learn about:
-various intergenerational learning practices in different countries
-state of biodiversity, nature-protection, sustainability measures in other countries
– care for the nature on international level
-broadening the approach of IGL and IG activities across different countries
-connecting professional institutions from different countries, exchange of knowledge
Among scientific priorities for 21st century are the most important life sciences, with important areas such as: structural biology, integrative biology, biodiversity, ecosystems. Application of genetic technology will change agriculture. Humanities and social sciences will have to begin to communicate with the natural sciences, and to make junctions among them, finding a new common language between the different scientific disciplines.
IGL in botanical gardens could be a catalyst of this process.