A Unique Project: A Video Guidebook to Showcase a Scientific Textbook

A Unique Project: A Video Guidebook to Showcase a Scientific Textbook

There's never been anything like this before.

A landmark textbook on the newly emerging field of biodemography, lead-authored by UC Davis distinguished professor James R. Carey, has evolved into another landmark: Carey has created, recorded and published a first-of-its-kind video guidebook with free worldwide access. 

The video guidebook showcases the 480-page textbook, Biodemography: An Introduction to Concepts and Methods (Princeton University Press, 2020),  co-authored by Deborah Roach, professor and chair of the University of Virginia's Department of Biology. Carey and Roach define the pioneering field of biodemography as “integrating biology, mathematics and demography.”

Carey, a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty since 1980 and a senior scholar with the UC Berkeley Center on the Economics and Demography of Aging (CEDA), opted to create the video playbook because “we believe the contents should be available to anyone interested in any aspect of biodemography regardless of their access to the book or their primary language.”

The video guidebook, now online on the UC Berkeley Population Sciences website, is unique in that never before has a scientific textbook author produced, scripted and narrated videos that encompass a book's entire content. The playlist includes 175 separate presentations, closed captioned in English and subtitled through YouTube in 300 different languages. The content covers the contents of his entire biodemography book with video modules on content ranging from life tables, mortality models and reproduction to stable population theory, matrix models and applied demography. He also has several dozen videos on best practices in visualization and presentation strategies. 

Carey served as the movie producer, director, script writer, animator, lighting and sound technician, videographer, and editor, all rolled into one, for the 480-hour video guidebook project. He used his office in Briggs Hall as the studio.

Basically, the video guidebook is a cross-media learning experience that's viewers will find engaging, enduring and enjoyable. "Readers can scroll, scan and peruse the book's contents as well as add notes, bookmark pages, and highlight text,” Carey said. “Unlike books video content can be easily added or updated and as well as both closed captioned and foreign language subtitled.”

His playlist includes demographic basics, life tables, mortality, reproduction, population models, and such topics as the Donner Party tragedy, the Titanic disaster, Napoleon's Grand Armée, and “Why the Oldest Person in the World Keeps Dying.”

Carey also delves into “Entomology and Insect-Related Videos” (see https://bit.ly/3lgYcD2), ecology and conservation biology, and other specialty grouped topics. In addition, his playlist includes video appendices of African elephants and mountain gorillas that he recorded on his teaching trips to Africa.

The Definitive Textbook. The textbook itself is hailed as "the definitive textbook for the emerging field of biodemography, integrating biology, mathematics and demography.”

Carey describes demography as “the taproot of an interdisciplinary tree containing multiple branches whose demographic topics range from health, disease, marriage and fertility to anthropology, paleontology, history, and education. Our book now adds a new branch to this tree—biodemography.”

Highly honored for his research, teaching and public service Carey served as the principal investigator of a 10-year, $10 million federal grant on “Aging in the Wild,” encompassing 14 scientists at 11 universities.

Carey won a 2018 global award in the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching Program, an academic competition sponsored every two years by Baylor University, Waco, Texas. He received the 2015 Distinguished Achievement in Teaching Award from the Entomological Society of America (ESA) and the 2014 Distinguished Teaching Award from the Pacific Branch of ESA. The UC Davis Academic Senate honored him as the recipient of its 2014 Distinguished Teaching Award, given to internationally recognized professors who excel at teaching.

Carey is a fellow of four organizations; American Association for the Advancement of Science, Entomological Society of America, California Academy of Science and the Gerontological Society of America. He holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley.