SCN 3650 Urban Ecology: Cities as Ecosystems: Urban landscapes are rapidly expanding and globally over 50% of the human population now lives in urban areas. This course investigates the relationship between ecological systems and high density areas of the human population. We will begin by discovering the nature within cities. Frequently when discussing nature, far-off lands of pristine wilderness are envisioned, but these people-less areas are inaccessible and often not relatable for much of the population. Many of the vital ecosystem services for which human life depends are derived from under-appreciated urban habitats. We will also investigate global human demography trends and socio-economic patterns within cities. The course then focuses on envisioning cities as integrated social-ecological systems. Cities and the people who live in them consume land, water, and energy resources that often originate outside the city’s boundaries. Air, water, and solid waste pollution are also produced and distributed widely. We will discuss the limitations and problems within much of the current built environment, but also explore new sustainable and inclusive urban planning strategies that include innovative architectural design and green technologies.
SCN3665 Biomimicry: Design Innovation from Nature: In this course we will investigate the tools and principles of biomimicry, which seek to sustainably solve current challenges by taking inspiration from how nature solves these same problems. Nature provides us with an incredible amount of research and development for effective problem-solving methodologies with the ultimate test for organisms being survival of the fittest. For the past 3.8 billion years, life has evolved strategies that are constantly integrated and optimized to create conditions conducive for life to continue. When biomimicry is well done, it is not just imitation, but rather inspiration using the design principles that nature has shown to be successful. In this course we will begin by investigating life’s principles and applying them to specific product design strategies by asking questions like “How does nature make color?” and “How does nature water-proof something?” The second half of the course will then emphasize ecosystem design to understand how we can use inspiration from ecological function and interconnectedness as a way to solve problems in businesses and organizations.
NST 2020 Ecological Management: The goal of environmental sustainability is to provide for the needs of humans while maintaining and improving the natural systems upon which we depend. In order to do this, we must fully appreciate and understand ecological management strategies for our vital natural resources, such as minerals, water, air, land, food, soil, and biodiversity. In this course we will focus on understanding the ecological principles of natural resource management while exploring new strategies for conservation. Topics that will be discussed in this course include: conflict minerals, carbon sequestration, sustainable food systems, cradle-to-cradle design, ecological restoration and the value of biodiversity. This course will emphasize the methodology of science, critical thinking and problem solving. Ethical issues and business applications associated with environmental conservation are discussed to enhance social responsibility and integrative thinking. The course is an applied ecology course, uniquely designed specifically for business students. We will first determine guiding principles for how healthy ecosystems function and sustain themselves. We will then explore how natural resources and services are altered by the human economy in extracting raw materials and generating waste. At each step we will investigate sustainability-based solutions. Finally we will synthesize the information to discuss our future potentials for ecological conservation.
SCN3630 Economic Botany: This course investigates the relationship between plants and society. Without plants and plant products humans would be hungry, naked, and lacking oxygen to breath. We will begin by exploring how plants grow and reproduce and the basics of different plant parts. We will then examine plants as sources of food, materials, perfumes, drugs, and medicines. Throughout the course we will discuss the role plants have played in influencing economics, language, arts, and religion. Current topics of particular interest for this course include the debate over genetically engineered crops, the development of new pharmaceutical medicines, the importance of our natural resources, the changes in human diet, and the use of plant products in new technologies. This course will emphasize the development of skills in critical thinking, synthesis of information, science literacy, hand-on exercises, and current topical issues in plant biology.
ENV4610 Art and Ecology: This trans-disciplinary course is co-taught by an artist and an ecologist and will focus on integrating visual art practices and scientific methodologies as a means of observing, understanding, interpreting, and creatively responding to human driven disturbances and the restoration of nature. We will use art and science and the intersections between these disciplines to investigate the environment through: water, soils and clay, the movement of plants, and landscape ecology. Students will learn a range of contemporary artists whose work is dependent on and responsive to the natural environment. Students will also explore scientific processes for healthy ecological function and human-driven disturbance. Students will be challenged to visualize their scientific observations and creative responses through drawing, graphing, 2 D mixed media, mapping/modeling, and sculpture. It is understood that students will likely be entering the studio art practice at a beginning level, therefore prior art experience is not required.