We know how to plant trees. When trees are planted, where, by whom, and who pays the bills all depend on politics and policy. Those in politics usually want to get reelected, and so they listen to people. What the people think and do, is embraced by culture. So culture provides the context for politics and policy, and whether knowledge about planting trees gets put into practice. All together can change our world.
This course explores these principles and concepts underlying issues of use and management of natural resources. Ecological principles are explored in the context of human behavioral, ethical, socio-economic and institutional factors, emphasizing the necessity for interdisciplinary approaches to issues of resources use and environmental quality.
Topics include biodiversity, endangered species, population, exploitation practices, tropical deforestation, agriculture, air and water pollution, energy production and use, waste disposal and the role of natural resources in the lives of people from the developed and developing world, and issues relating to environmental justice in the use of resources by people from both regions. The Great Lakes basin is a local laboratory for all these.
At the end of the course, you should be able to analyze any environmental issue, recognizing, identifying, and weighing the intertwined natural science, social science, humanities and cultural components contributing to the issue. You should feel comfortable listening and talking with experts and stakeholders across these areas. You should be able to analyze environmental situations, come up with ideas — a pragmatic plan — for resolving them. These are highly valued by employers and graduate schools.
No textbook is required for the course, and readings are provided through CTools from current literature. Materials costs for the course will depend on how you choose to produce lab presentations.
Evaluation is based on a midterm and a final exam, participation in lectures and labs and lab projects. Exams will include true-false and multiple-choice questions, and questions requiring short-essay answers. The final class project will include a public presentation.
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Lectures and labs