Ecosystems

Ecosystem_imgAs part of the College of Natural Resources and Environment of Virginia Tech, CLiGS maintains an inherent interest in the health and strength of ecosystems with a particular emphasis on their symbiotic relationship with human systems.  The health of our environment is tied directly to global development decision-making and likewise, the health of our communities and economy depends on resilient ecosystems.

  • NR 5014 Constructing Sustainability (3 credits)

    This course examines the science, policy and practice of sustainability and sustainable development in a global context. We will examine the history, current status and future prospects of sustainability and sustainable development from economic, social and ecological perspectives. In the past several decades, sustainability and sustainable development have gained status in political, scientific, business, religious and cultural institutions and are now guiding principles that frame and shape public policy and private practice at multiple scales. While these concepts are well‐established in many communities and cultures worldwide, they have only recently emerged as prominent features in the mainstream of contemporary popular culture throughout global society. This interdisciplinary course encourages students to consider how they can engage science, policy, professional and civic institutions in constructing sustainability.

    Instructor(s):
    David P. Robertson
    Offered:
    Fall
    Syllabus:
    Sample Course Syllabus
  • NR 5114 Global Issues in Natural Resources (3 credits)

    The purpose of this course is to build competencies in sustainability professionals to think globally about sustainability challenges and their career, to situate their own professional work in a global context, to better understand sustainability situations and tools for examining them, and to practice team/collaborative project management and problems solving skills. The course is organized into 4 broad areas of focus: the global Anthropocene, sustainability case analysis, leadership, and cultural competencies. This course is designed to support the International Field Experience (IFE) scheduled for the same semester.

    Instructor(s):
    Anamaria Bukvic , Selma Elouardighi , Bruce Hull , Kieran Lindsey , Daniel J. Marcucci , Marc Stern , Holly (Louise) Wise
    Offered:
    Fall, Spring, Summer I (12 weeks)
    Syllabus:
    Sample Course Syllabus
  • NR 5424 Urban Wildlife (3 credits)

    Eight of every ten of Americans live in cities or towns of 50,000 people or more, and 50% of the world’s human population now lives in urban areas. What has been the impact of this transition on wildlife populations? While it’s a common assumption that cities are inhospitable to non-human animal life, we have ample evidence today to indicate that not only do some wildlife species survive in urban areas; they can thrive. One positive consequence of this is that people can directly enjoy and appreciate wildlife close to home, and feel a closer connection to the natural world by doing so. A negative consequence is that conflicts between people and wildlife are on the rise. Urbanization has created new challenges for wildlife management professionals, and most have little or no special training in this area. This course will be organized into five learning units: urban landscapes, urban ecosystems, urban habitats and hazards, sociopolitical issues, and special management considerations.

     

    Instructor(s):
    Megan Draheim
    Offered:
    Spring
    Syllabus:
    Sample Course Syllabus
  • NR 5634 Urban Ecology (3 credits)

    Our planet is increasingly urban. Approximately 50% of the world’s people now live in urban areas. In many regions of the world, the rate of urbanization is declining; however, individual cities, metropolitan regions, and urban areas continue to grow (in number, extent and population). In this context, urban ecology is an important approach to environmental science and sustainable development. People throughout the world practice urban ecology. These people are motivated by a desire to create healthy human ecosystems and livable communities in which to live, work, and play. This semester, we will study some of these people, projects, and places. Key questions: What is an urban ecosystem? Are cities sustainable environments? What are civic stakeholders, local communities, and global society doing to ensure that urban and urbanizing landscapes are healthy and desirable places for today’s world?

    Instructor(s):
    David P. Robertson
    Offered:
    Summer I (12 weeks)
    Syllabus:
    Sample Course Syllabus
  • NR 5724 Conservation Ecology (3 credits)

    Human activities are having a cumulative effect on the natural systems upon which life depends. Future land management impacts will likely entail unprecedented change in environmental conditions. More integration of the traditional natural resources fields will be required to develop innovative approaches to sustain resource development. Conservation ecology provides insights to the many benefits and services that nature offers and explores strategies to sustain ecological integrity and plan landscapes for human use. It is an emerging interdisciplinary approach to harmonizing the interactions between people and nature at ecosystem scales.

    *Available in Fall, Spring, and Summer I (12 week, even numbered years)

    Instructor(s):
    Megan Draheim
    Offered:
    Fall, Spring, Summer I (12 weeks)
    Syllabus:
    Sample Course Syllabus
  • NR 5884 Adaptive Management (3 credits)

    Faced with limited resources to confront growing challenges, conservation organizations must show that their efforts are strategic, systematic, and results-oriented. This course provides students with the skills and knowledge to design and implement effective conservation projects and to generate clear evidence of their progress toward achieving conservation results. The course provides training in adaptive management (AM), including planning, monitoring, implementing, analyzing, learning from, and adapting conservation projects — essential knowledge and skills for current and emerging conservation practitioners. Graduate students in conservation-focused programs require experiential learning in the practical and applied processes (i.e. adaptive management) and skills (e.g. developing goals and objectives, budget drafting, and leadership) that are essential for achieving conservation results.

    Instructor(s):
    Heather E. Eves
    Offered:
    Spring
    Syllabus:
    Sample Course Syllabus
  • NR 5884 Biodiversity Policy (3 credits)

    NEW! Conservation biologists warn that we are in the midst of a great “extinction crisis,” with millions of species threatened due to habitat destruction, climate change, and other anthropogenic factors.  This course focuses on examining how we are (and should be) constructing legal regimes and effective political institutions to conserve Earth’s endangered forms of life across multiple levels (ecosystem, landscape, species, population, and genetic diversity).  We will examine U.S. legal and political responses to biodiversity loss, with a focus on the Endangered Species Act, as well as the role of international law, especially treaty regimes.  We will look at how law is(n’t) succeeding in preserving life on Earth, and pay particular attention to most effective legal practices to conserve biodiversity.

    Offered:
    Summer I (12 weeks)
    Syllabus:
    Sample Course Syllabus
  • NR 5884 Biodiversity Stewardship (3 credits)

    This course builds on the principles of biodiversity science across the many components of stewardship. Participants will each identify a study area (local site or area, a county, or larger region) that provides the context for investigating, documenting, analyzing and promoting biodiversity.   Accordingly, students’ projects and course products are highly variable and reflect a wide variety of professional, academic and personal interests.  Skills developed in this course can be immediately applied to real-world needs, and some participants may design their projects and products to address an existing need.

    Instructor(s):
    Jim Egenrieder
    Offered:
    Summer I (12 weeks)
    Syllabus:
    Sample Course Syllabus
  • NR 5884 Coastal & Marine Systems (3 credits)

    Approximately 3 billion people, or half of the world’s population, live within 200 kilometers of a coastline. That figure is projected to increase dramatically by 2025. Coastal areas represent complex socio-ecological systems that provide valuable ecosystem services to people and the planet, but these ecosystems are under increasing stress with growing coastal urbanization and other anthropocentric impacts and demands. Coastal management is concerned with protecting, conserving, and managing coasts and coastal resources and requires an interdisciplinary approach to understanding and negotiating often-competing interests. In this course, we will be exploring the socio-ecological systems that comprise coastal areas or zones, as well as the pressures affecting their health and resilience. We will then examine some strategies being developed around the world to manage coastal areas for social, economic, and environmental sustainability.

    Instructor(s):
    Daniel J. Marcucci
    Offered:
    Spring
    Syllabus:
    Sample Course Syllabus
  • NR 5884 Human-Wildlife Conflicts (3 credits)

    Human-wildlife conflict resolution is a rapidly growing area within the wildlife sciences that draws upon the need for multi-disciplinary approaches to resolve complex issues associated with human domination of ecosystems. The problems people have with wild animals and the problems wild animals have with people require the use of cooperative, collaborative, and innovative approaches if they are to be resolved in ways that maximize both social and ecological benefits. Nowhere do the challenges in this area loom larger than in our urban and suburban environments. Within very recent times the growing conflicts between people and wild animals such as beaver, deer, coyote and Canada geese have developed to a point where the entire paradigm of wildlife management has been changed. This course draws upon some of the emerging issues associated with human-wildlife conflicts and through the use of case histories and examples explore the theory and practice of conflict resolution as well as the practical ethics needed to navigate contemporary wildlife management.

    Instructor(s):
    Megan Draheim
    Offered:
    Fall
    Syllabus:
    Sample Course Syllabus
  • NR 5884 International Environmental Law & Policy (3 credits)

    International environmental law has been perhaps the most dynamic sector of international law over the past 30 years, growing from a mere handful of agreements 30 years ago, focused primarily on pollution of the marine environment and the conservation of migratory birds and marine mammals, to over 700 agreements today, addressing a multitude of serious environmental issues, including depletion of the climate change, ozone layer, regulation of trade in endangered species and prevention of transboundary air pollution. Additionally, there has been steadily increasing impetus for expanding the purview of international environmental law, including causes of action for transboundary environmental harm and recognition of the rights of future generations to a healthy environment. This course will seek to provide an overview of the status of international environmental law in the 21st Century, including the sources of international law, mechanisms to assess and facilitate implementation of and compliance with international environmental law, and assessment of effectiveness of international environmental law and methods to enhance its effectiveness.

    Instructor(s):
    Jennifer Wills
    Offered:
    Fall, Spring
    Syllabus:
    Sample Course Syllabus
  • NR 5884 Landscape Systems and Strategies (3 credits)

    The cumulative effects of global trends such as increasing population, expanding cities, improving living standards, accelerating climate change, shifting agriculture, and moving coastlines combine with local pressures on individual landscapes.  Over the next century, these keystone processes will fundamentally alter landscapes across the globe creating new challenges for productivity, sustainability, resilience, and adaptability.  Landscapes are definable frames of human activities and natural systems, ranging from highly altered, such as urban or agricultural lands, to predominately natural, such as wild or resource lands.  We rely on landscape organization for essential social and ecosystem services.  The imperative for sustainability requires that we develop conservation, development, and governance processes that treat landscapes with a long view.  This course looks at the big picture, by examining the challenge of planning large landscapes for both the intermediate and long term.  The objective is to construct a vision for unseen, yet sustainable, landscapes.

    *Available in Fall, Spring, and Summer I (12 week, on odd-numbered years)

    Instructor(s):
    Daniel J. Marcucci
    Offered:
    Fall, Spring, Summer I (12 weeks)
    Syllabus:
    Sample Course Syllabus
  • NR 5884 Water and Conflict (3 credits)

    Water is a vital resource to Earth’s 7 billion humans.  Only 3% of the Earth’s water is potable, and it is not evenly distributed around the world. Some countries have easy access to this resource, while others have too little or too much.  In this course, we’ll study the management of water resources in the U.S., Bangladesh and Kiribati, the Tigris-Euphrates Basin, and Brazil.  Students will be introduced to the basic issues surrounding water management, and then case studies will be used to investigate examples of water management and conflict around the world.

    Instructor(s):
    Desiree Di Mauro , Becky Patton
    Offered:
    Fall
    Syllabus:
    Sample Course Syllabus
  • NR 5884 Watershed Stewardship (3 credits)

    [formerly Watershed Systems Stewardship]  This course was developed as an interdisciplinary course covering: watershed identification and mapping; watershed characteristics and evaluation; stormwater engineering; stream corridor restoration; water quality monitoring; native plants and animals; exotic and invasive species; public education; volunteer coordination and training; roles and activities for teachers and students; and advocacy training.

    Instructor(s):
    Jim Egenrieder
    Offered:
    Fall
    Syllabus:
    Sample Course Syllabus
  • NR 5954 Study Abroad, China Project (Fall 2018) (3 credits)

    Hong Kong, on the Pearl River Estuary, is the engine that drives the world’s largest megacity, according to The World Bank. Yet three-quarters of it remains natural. Lying in the tropics, there are over 100 species of dragonflies in Hong Kong. Guilin, a provincial city 515 kilometers (320 mi) to the northwest, straddles the Li River, in the heart of one of the most iconic landscapes in the world. Industrialization, agriculture, development, and tourism all rely on this landscape. These two cities are the bases to explore 21st Century sustainability in one of the most dynamic and rapidly changing regions of the world.

    Program Fee: 3 credit hours graduate tuition + $3300 project fee (covers lodging, in-country transportation, meals, translations services, etc.) + airfare.

    IFE Travel Dates:  October 21-30, 2018

    Prerequisite: NR5114 or approval by Dr. Kieran Lindsey

    Instructor(s):
    Daniel J. Marcucci
    Offered:
    Fall
  • NR 5954 Study Abroad, Croatia Project (Summer 2018) (3 credits)

    Croatia is a small country with just under 5 million residents located in the southeastern Europe with diverse landscapes and rich history, cultural heritage, and traditions. Its exceptional natural environment is comprised of picturesque rolling hills, pristine forests, dramatic karst topography, mountain ridges, fertile plains, and interconnected system of rivers and lakes—all teeming with wildlife and endemic species. The country has eight national parks, including the National Park Plitvice, which features an ecologically distinctive system of 16 lakes and 92 waterfalls and was declared UNESCO’s heritage site in 1979. Croatian coastline along the Adriatic Sea, known as the ‘land of a thousand islands’ with the pristine beaches and crystal clear seawater, supports thriving finishing industry and tourism. The unique beauty of Croatian coastal settlements can be seen from the scenes of King’s Landing in the famous HBO’s TV series Game of Thrones filmed in the historic city of Dubrovnik.

    Program Fee: 3 credit hours graduate tuition + $3300 project fee (covers lodging, in-country transportation, meals, translations services, etc.) + airfare.

    IFE Travel Dates:  June 25 – July 4, 2018


    Prerequisite:
    NR5114 or approval by Dr. Kieran Lindsey

    Instructor(s):
    Anamaria Bukvic
    Offered:
    Summer I (12 weeks)
  • NR 5954 Study Abroad, Indonesia Project (Summer 2019) (3 credits)

    Travel with Professor Marc Stern to the Island of the Gods — Bali, Indonesia — to explore sustainability issues firsthand.  Bali, an island of temples, rice terraces, volcanoes, beaches, and reefs, is facing tremendous development pressures from a rapidly expanding international tourism industry and the demands that visitors place on local infrastructure and ecosystems.  We’ll explore some of Bali’s greatest challenges while also taking in its stunning cultural and natural beauty.  Critical areas of exploration may include how Bali is coping with both marine and land conservation issues in innovative ways.

    Program Fee: 3 credit hours graduate tuition + $3300 project fee (covers lodging, in-country transportation, meals, translations services, etc.) + airfare.

    IFE Travel Dates:  TBA

    Prerequisite: NR5114 or approval by Dr. Kieran Lindsey

    Instructor(s):
    Marc Stern
    Offered:
    Summer I (12 weeks)
Dr. Bruce Hull
Senior Fellow; Faculty
Fellow; Associate Director of Online Programs
David Robertson
Senior Fellow, Faculty, and Associate Director of Executive Programs
Dequn Zhou
International Fellow