Humanity’s success in navigating environmental challenges in the 21st century largely hinges on increasing awareness of people’s dependence and impacts on nature. Teaching will play a critical role. I am passionate about using my teaching to (1) increase ecological literacy, (2) expose students to scientific research, and (3) help students build necessary skills for engaging in modern conservation science and/or practice. I strongly believe that gaps in knowledge are best filled when students are engaged and thus strive to create a dynamic and interactive classroom environment.
I currently teach ‘Conservation Biology’ (WFC 154) each winter, and ‘Tropical Ecology and Conservation’ (WFC 125) in alternating fall quarters. Next up, will like be ‘Conservation in Working Landscapes’ (WFC 198), which is currently in development.
Conservation Biology (WFC 154)
One of our greatest challenges will be continuing to sustain a growing population while simultaneously safeguarding Earth’s biodiversity and the processes that enrich and sustain human life. WFC 154 is intended to (1) introduce students to the major threats to Earth’s ecosystems, (2) explore how the global human enterprise depends on natural systems, and (3) critically evaluate forward-thinking conservation strategies to manage nature in a changing world. WFC 154 is thus be grounded in ecology but also leverages key ideas and concepts from economics, psychology, philosophy, and other disciplines as they relate to conservation science.
WFC 154 also helps students understand and develop useful skills for the modern conservation scientist or practitioner. Students will learn basic science literacy (e.g., by reading scientific articles), how to communicate conservation (e.g., by participating in mock debates and a course blog), and how to advocate for conservation policy (e.g., by developing a policy brief).
Check out the syllabus here!
Also, check out the Student Conservation Corner, a blog in which WFC 154 students summarize modern conservation science for lay-audiences.
Tropical Ecology and Conservation (WFC 125)
The tropics house the vast majority of Earth’s species and its cultural diversity, but the region also suffers from increasing environmental degradation and rampant poverty. Indeed, the tropics are the only zone to exhibit a trend of accelerating deforestation, driven by rapid rates of agricultural expansion and intensification. Similarly, warming and acidifying oceans are causing vast swaths of coral reefs to bleach, dissolve, and die. Beyond the dire implications for global biodiversity, these environmental changes are also eroding Earth’s life-support systems, compromising the health and wellbeing of local people. And yet, there is still reason for hope. The world’s governments have committed to major forest and reef conservation and restoration initiatives. And scientists are developing strategies to inform these efforts, seeking interventions that would enhance conservation and human wellbeing simultaneously.
WFC 125 is intended to (1) introduce students to the ecology and natural history of the tropics, including the similarities and differences with biomes in temperate latitudes; (2) explore the challenges and opportunities associated with pursuing tropical conservation; and (3) empower students to design, implement, and communicate their own individually-driven research projects. In doing so, WFC 125 will help students understand and develop useful skills for the modern tropical conservation scientist. Specifically, students will learn basic science literacy (e.g., by reading, discussing, and critiquing scientific articles), how to develop and answer novel scientific questions, how to collaborate in groups, and how to clearly communicate their findings.
Check out the syllabus here!