This course aims to increase understanding of the ways we learn about the natural environment, and to apply this understanding to pressing environmental problems, both globally and locally. By the end of the course, you will gain a basic understanding of ecological principles and the scientific method, particularly as they relate to current environmental issues. Further, you will be able to critically appraise scientific studies and their presentation in public forums, and know how to begin evaluating policy choices related to environmental issues.
The course will be organized into modules, each of which will consist of an introduction to key ecological principles and their application to a particular suite of environmental problems.
Student work will include text readings and short quizes to demonstrate mastry of the essential information, and preparation and analysis of case studies that illustrate the principles of each module.
Group work will be coordinated on Blackboard, and many minor assignments will be filed there as well. All students must sign up for the Blackboard course by the end of the first class meeting. Instructions for signing onto Blackboard are linked to this page.
Final projects will take the form of a personal statement (for a letter to the editor, or a public hearing officer) that includes an overview, analysis and opinion on a local environmental issue of the students choice.
Our text, Essential Environment: The Science behind the Stories, is being published in December. It is possible that the text will be delayed, in which case, we will be able to use a companion volume (a bit longer, but same authors) until our text is ready. Do not plan to go to the bookstore to pick up your text until the 1st day of class -- it will not be there sooner!
T 1/4 Introduction: The role of ecological science in public life
TH 1/6 Environmental Systems and Large-scale organization of life on earth
T 1/11 Evolutionary processes
Th 1/13 Populations and communities
T 1/18 Human history and current conditions
Th 1/20 Soils and Agriculture
Introduction of case study 1: GE crops and sustainability
T 1/25 Biodiversity Conservation
GE/Sustainability questions due by 10pm on blackboard
Th 1/27 Hands-on computer lab/group work
T 2/1 Mock Hearing: GE crops and sustainability
Th 2/3 Mock Hearing: GE crops and sustainability
T 2/8 Toxicology and Human & Environmental Health
Th 2/10 Tropical Ecology, International Economies and Indigenous Peoples
Introduction to Ecuador Oil Exploration Case study
T 2/15 Energy, Waste, and Ecology
Ecuador Case Study questions due by 10pm on blackboard
Th 2/17 Hands on computer lab/group work
T 2/22 Negotiations: Ecuador Oil Development
Th 2/24 Negotiations: Ecuador Oil Development
T 3/1 Ecological Consequences of Climate Change
Th 3/3 Special Challenges in Freshwater and Marine Environments
T 3/8 Land Use and How We Live
W 3/9 Topic selection for Final Project must be posted to Blackboard by 10pm
Th 3/10 Final Discussion: how can we improve our local and global environment?
Th 3/17 Final Project DUE on Blackboard by 8pm