A general introduction to ecology. Introduces the principles that govern how organisms interact with each other and with their surroundings.
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.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Most sessions will mix lecture and discussion, as well as group work. Expect to work in groups on case study analyses that will require some outside of class coordination online, as well as frequent use of Blackboard. Each case study will have one in-class session devoted entirely to group work to alleviate the need for in-person meetings outside of class time.
Just an interest in the environment, a willingness to participate actively, and to engage in respectful discussion.
Class assignments and grading
Students will complete inquiry exercises designed to teach the approaches to understanding the environment used by ecologists and other environmental scientists. In addition, students will focus on detailing how scientific information is presented in the media and on honing their skills in interpreting scientific information. Groups of students will also complete independent investigations on specific cases and present their findings to the class. This year, cases will include an investigation into genetically-engineered crops, oil exploration in the Amazon region, and local land use and development issues.
Writing assignments will be graded on: 1) clarity of presentation; 2) understanding of the material covered; 3) critical thinking; 4) factual content; 5) creativity and originality.
Class participation, which includes written in-class exercises, self-evaluation, group evaluation, and taking an active role in class discussion, counts for a full quarter of your grade.