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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Patrick John Christie
SIS 490
Seattle Campus

Special Topics

Content varies from quarter to quarter.

Class description

The world’s oceans are under increasing pressure. Rates of extraction of resources, poorly managed global trade, degraded key habitats, ecosystem shifts due to climate change are in the mainstream news on a regular basis. The impacts of human on this vast ecosystem are now apparent everywhere on earth. The stakes are high as we now know that the ocean is a key mediator of the earth’s climate, the source of much of the protein for a large portion of the earth’s coastal population, and home to biodiversity on the brink of precipitous decline. There is considerable debate as to how to move forward. Paradigms of ocean management that were influential from the 1970s until the 1990s, are now being replaced with “ecosystem-based” approaches. While considerable funding is being focused on these issues, the governance challenges to manage such large areas is overwhelming for many institutions and local dynamics are being overlooked. How institutions respond to the challenge will largely determine whether these new visions are successful or overly ambitious. This course will explore the extent of the change in ocean condition. Create a typology for understanding historic and current ocean policy processes and agreements. And study these emerging ecosystem-based approaches. Students and the professor will explore the literature and correspond through Voice-Over-Internet (SKYPE) discussions with world experts in leading UN agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, large Non-Governmental Agencies such as The Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund, and a US Agency for International Development (USAID)-supported project and domestic NGO in the Philippines. Through the professor’s professional relationships with individuals in these agencies, students will come to learn about the rapidly evolving world of ocean management and conservation. Cases from around the world, but primarily from the developing or tropical world, will be considered.

Student learning goals

1) Students will become aware of the importance of ocean condition and their decline;

2) Students will identify the underpinning goals and approaches of emerging ecosystem approaches employed by leading agencies;

3) Students will learn how to evaluate and adapt ocean policies to consider context and multiple objectives;

4) Students will learn how to critically and consistently analyze policy articles and reports.

General method of instruction

Course assignments and grading: The course will be run as an advanced-level undergraduate/graduate seminar. Please contact Michele Berg ( or Linda Iltis ( for a detailed class description.

Recommended preparation


Class assignments and grading

Assignment Percentage of grade Readings and participation in weekly discussions 50% Co-facilitation of discussion 10% Literature review term paper 40%

Terborgh, J. 1999. Requiem for Nature. Wilson, E.O. 2002. The Future of Life.

Students will be assigned short writing assignments and one term paper. Readings, syllabus and assignments are posted on UW e-reserves. URL to be announced in class.

Quality of analysis and meaningful participation in class.

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Patrick John Christie
Date: 09/29/2007