Current Course Descriptions
Fundamentals of Ecology (RENR 205)-This course is designed to survey the principles and concepts of ecology for non-majors to meet science core requirements. The course focuses on the relevance of ecology in contemporary society by illustrating ecological concepts with numerous examples. Specific topics include an introduction to ecology, climate and soils, biomes, nutrient cycling, energy flow, productivity and biodiversity. The overarching philosophy of the course is to produce ecologically literate citizens that can make informed decisions regarding environmental issues confronting the State, Nation and globe.
Coupled Social-Ecological Systems (ESSM 318)-Most ecosystems throughout the globe are human dominated and possess strong linkages between human actions and ecological outcomes. This course investigates the importance and complexity of human-ecological interactions on natural resource management, provision of ecosystem services, and human well-being. The role of various knowledge sources, including scientific knowledge, and human behavior and environmental ethics on these interactions will be investigated from the perspective of individuals and social institutions. Adaptive management and social learning will be emphasized as necessary to guide change in human-ecological systems, including mitigation, adaptation, and transformation. Resilience thinking will be used to integrate these diverse concepts and issues to develop a framework capable of guiding management under conditions of great uncertainty, incomplete knowledge, and urgent timelines. High profile contemporary issues from within the State and Nation will be used to illustrate the operation and importance of these transformative concepts.
Ecosystem Stewardship (ESSM 601)–Complex and unprecedented changes within the earth system require that novel conceptual frameworks for sustainable development, alternative approaches of knowledge production, and innovative social institutions be developed and implemented to support effective stewardship. This course explores these emerging frameworks and their application within the context of resilience and social ecological systems. Adaptive management, social learning and flexible, decentralized institutions will be emphasized as key elements of effective stewardship. Post-normal science will be explored as a means of knowledge production to contend with conditions of high uncertainty, incomplete knowledge, and urgent, high-stakes decisions. The implementation and value of resilience-based stewardship will be investigated in diverse ecosystems including forests, rangelands, agro-ecosystems, oceans, and built environments.