Teaching

Summer 2020: Sustainable Food Systems

ENVS 014 (Online)

Sustainable food systems demand an answer to the question, what is sustainable? This course will explore the many names and faces of food, asking students to critically evaluate sustainability from scientific, social and political perspectives. The course is organized into three modules: 1) food, 2) energy & ecology and 3) environmental justice. The first module provides an overview to food systems, taking a look various management styles and their environmental consequences. We will pull examples from historical times to the present, from the precursors of the Dust Bowl to concentrated animal feed operations (CAFOs). The second module will provide a scientific understanding of the key energetic and ecological components that contribute to the sustainability of food systems including its contribution to climate change and global biodiversity loss. In the third module we will examine the social injustices of food systems, from its twin roles in obesity and hunger to the development of key social movements striving for a new but old “peasant-way of life”.

To read more about the course material and our (remote!) partnership with the Dartmouth Organic Farm, click here.

 

Winter 2020: Coupled Human-Natural Systems: Theory & Practice

ENVS 80.10 & EEES 181

This course is an introduction to coupled human-natural systems, exploring how social, ecological, and environmental systems are linked and feedback to influence each other. Increasing human demand for Earth’s limited resources has resulted in a plethora of hazards to the natural world; problems which are unlikely to be solved without understanding the links between human and natural systems. Here, we will explore some of the complex, sometimes non-intuitive behavior that results from coupling these systems. The primary objective is to introduce students to the tools and techniques of complex systems science used for researching coupled human-natural systems. In a series of lectures and computer laboratory modules, students will be introduced to significant areas of research in the field and learn how to analyze and leverage basic continuous and discrete time differential models and spatiotemporal statistics to address socio-ecological problems. The course will provide basic coding instruction, as necessary. No prior experience in coding is needed. In a final project, students will work in groups to develop or adapt an existing socio-ecological model, gather and analyze existing data, as well as interpret the implications of their results for human management.

 

Feel free to follow along as we progress this quarter:

Lab 1: The era of ecological collapse

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Lab 2: Managing uncertainty

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Lab 3: Coupled systems

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Lab 4: Path dependence

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Lab 5: Game theory

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