2012-13 Catalog

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Offering Description

What is Ecology?


Fall 2012 and Winter 2013 quarters

Dylan Fischer forest ecology , Matthew Smith political science
Fields of Study
environmental studies, history and writing
Preparatory for studies or careers in
environmental history, writing, ecology, botany, zoology, environmental science, biology, environmental law and natural history.
High-school algebra, trigonometry and calculus; high-school chemistry and biology.

Matt Smith and Dylan Fischer are teaching Water in the West.  Please refer to that description in the catalog.


What does the word "ecology" mean to you? Ecology is understood differently in different fields of study. For example, in the sciences, ecology is a broad field of study which draws together information from evolution, biology, zoology, botany, chemistry, geology and atmospheric science. In this context, ecology means the “study of the house”, or the study of organisms and their interactions with each other and the abiotic world. Popular use of the word ecology does not imply this context, and in fact most of our experiences with the natural world are far more personal.

In this program we will explore human interactions with ecology and the natural world from the point of view of the scientist, the historian, and the creative writer. In this two-quarter experience we will explore what it means to interact with, and modify, the natural world, and what that means for ecology. We will provide introductions to the fields of ecology, creative writing, and environmental history over two quarters. Our introduction to ecology will include textbook readings, quizzes, lectures and field trips designed to introduce basic physical, biological, ecological and chemical processes that govern ecosystems. These processes are intimately tied to patterns in biodiversity, evolution, population cycles and symbioses. In local field trips we will learn about human history and adaptations in plant and animal species occurring in prairies and forests of the Northwest. In seminars we will explore books that deal explicitly with human-ecology interactions, controversies and misunderstandings. And through writing workshops, students will engage in refining their own writing about the natural world through scientific, historic and creative lenses. Finally, in seminar we will discuss both fiction and non-fiction books covering ecological controversies to explore how human activities are affecting ecosystems.

At the end of this program students should emerge well versed in what the field of ecology is all about, and how human interactions and interpretations of ecology can change both ecosystems and people.

Online Learning
Hybrid Online Learning < 25% Delivered Online
Greener Store
Required Fees
$150 per quarter for overnight field trips.
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
April 27th, 2012 This program has been cancelled. The faculty are now teaching Water in the West.
February 6th, 2012 Bill Ransom has left the teaching team; description will be updated.
January 9th, 2012 Matt: here or with Rita?