I teach undergraduate and graduate courses in both the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EBIO) and the Environmental Studies Program (ENVS). Recent and current courses focus on human interactions with the environment, specifically regarding food production and procurement, as well as the conservation of biological diversity and ecosystem services. I offer brief course descriptions below; please contact me if you’d like to learn more about these courses and their content.
Food and the Environment (ENVS 4120, Summer 2011)
Food production and procurement are inherently interdisciplinary in that they involve ecological processes, management of natural resources, and human values and decisions. In this course we will take a comprehensive look at the environmental issues associated with food systems. We will critically examine how food choices and prospects for valuing the services of nature may influence Earth’s ability to sustain society into the future. We will consider topics such as locally and organically grown food, fisheries and aquaculture, bushmeat hunting, crop genetic diversity and genetic modification, coffee pollination and tropical conservation, food miles, and connections among alternative energy, food prices, and crop production.
In this course, we read recent books relevant to these topics and supplement the books with readings from the primary literature, popular press, and electronic media; class discussions, excursions to local farms, markets, and grocery stores; guest participants, and student presentations. In addition to discussion and analysis of readings in small groups, each student designs and completes an individual project focused on an integration of a topic related to food and the environment.
Conservation Biology (EBIO/ENVS 3040, Fall 2013)
Conservation biology is ultimately about sustainable interactions between humans and the environment. It involves the study and application of scientific principles to the protection and management of Earth’s biological diversity and ecosystem services. Conservation biology is an integrative discipline in that it combines such disparate fields as genetics, ecology, anthropology, sociology, economics, and ethics. This course primarily emphasizes the biological and ecological principles that underlie the genesis, maintenance and loss of biological diversity and ecosystem services. However, these are viewed and discussed in the context of human values, economics, and policies.
This course is designed to be highly participatory, with students being actively involved in the selection of topics to be covered and in discussions of the current issues and controversies in the field. Some examples of questions currently addressed by researchers in conservation biology include: What is the impact of roads on species diversity in wilderness areas? How does deforestation affect emergence of malaria in tropical forests? Which regions on Earth are the high priority areas for conservation? How does salmon farming affect native salmon? How are nature reserves influenced by adjacent human activities?
Environmental Science (ENVS 5002, Spring 2012)
For the past three years, I have used this course to explore the theme of environmental issues associated with food production and procurement (see “Food and the Environment,” above). Due to the advanced level of this course, students are typically responsible for delivering more of the course content and delve a bit more deeply into each topic. I plan to explore this theme further in the Spring 2012 course.