Janet Owen

The Earth Museum is an experimental not-for-profit enterprise with a vision to create a virtual learning resource which can be used in every home, classroom, museum and place, sharing and connecting the world’s cultural and natural heritage with people and places; empowering us to understand each other and look after the planet better.

We make digital interactive maps with heritage treasures and their associated stories linking back to the communities and geographies for which they have meaning in the present. Through elaborating on connections between stories and places, we aim to inspire learning about global citizenship in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

For example, we have been working with Gosport and Fareham Multi-Academy Trust1 to develop a learning resource about World War 12 that inspires young students to reflect on the truly global nature of this conflict and its impact on personal lives. The idea is that it can be combined with local WW1 history sessions to provide a global context; and used in the classroom to support educational activities for history, geography, social action and cross-curricular teaching. In doing so, it helps support learning around UN SDGs 16: Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions and 10: Reduced Inequalities.

We have also worked in partnership with the excellent Fragments of Hope3 charity which works to protect and conserve the Belize Coral Reef System World Heritage Site. By mapping video footage taken at various locations and linking with new and existing learning materials made by Fragments of Hope and The Earth Museum, we have created a resource4 that provides a case study on the impact of climate change on environment.

This helps support a number of UN SDGs, including 13: Climate Action and 12: Responsible Consumption & Production.

Our work is not just targeted at schools. We also seek to engage the naturally curious in a virtual exploration of our world through the lens of its natural and cultural heritage. Our ‘World of Stories’, ‘World of Treasures’ and ‘Themed Tours’5 present an eclectic mix of heritage-inspired place-based content, all shaped by our values centred on solidarity, respect, belonging and sustainability. We always seek volunteers to contribute stories and create maps.

Presently we are fundraising for a project to develop a new climate action learning resource, working with a number of partners, including the University of Winchester, Gosport and Fareham Multi-Academy Trust and the Rapanui Pioneer Society6. We value learning above all, and constantly strive to further develop our platform so it even better meets target audience needs.



1. Gosport & Fareham Multi-Academy Trust gfmat.org

2. ‘World War 1 and the Last Goodbye’ video tinyurl.com/kztzbtu2

3. Fragments of Hope fragmentsofhope.org

4. ‘Fragments of Hope: Protecting the Belize Coral Reefs’ video tinyurl.com/3jktw7f2

5. The Earth Museum: Travel the World theearthmuseum.co.uk/travel-the-world

6. Rapanui Pioneer Society rapanuipioneers.com


Janet Owen is Founder and Executive Director of The Earth Museum, a project inspired by her 30 years working in the museum and cultural heritage environment; and through research into the collecting journeys of Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin, among others.

Contact: enquiries@theearthmuseum.co.uk

More information: theearthmuseum.co.uk


This article was first published in Summer 2021 in Vol 127 of the NAEE journal which is available free to members.

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