There are two main objectives of the class. The first is to provide you an opportunity to grow as a scholar by looking at an important environmental issue and developing a comprehensive and interdisciplinary perspective on the causes and effects of the problem, as well as policies to mitigate the problem. The second main objective of the course is to develop web-based resources that other students and the general public can use to better understand the problem.
The invasive species problem receives less notoriety than environmental problems such as global warming or tropical deforestation. However, in terms of its impacts on both ecosystems and social systems, the invasive species problem is on a level of these problems in terms of pervasiveness, magnitude of impacts, and difficulty in developing solutions.
This course marks the transition from your traditional student role to the role of a researcher, who needs to function both as an independent researcher and as part of a research team. You are committing to a serious effort to examine an environmental issue, and so traditional evaluation tools such as exams are not really relevant to my evaluation of your performance. Your grade in the class will be determined by the intensity and quality of your participation in the class. As part of my assessment of your performance, I will ask your classmates to evaluate your contribution as well. I will not assign specific point values to specific tasks that you are required to perform. I will grade your total effort on the class.
Since there are no quantitative measures for you to track, I will provide confidential feedback to you on your progress through periodic e-mails. I will tell you what I think of your performance, and what you need to do to improve your performance. Ultimately, what I care about is your commitment to the course and to your classmates.
The first four classes will be devoted to organization and lecture. After that, class meetings will be devoted to discussion of what we uncover in our research, and to further planning of our research effort.
January 7 - Organization of the class
January 9 - Lecture: Understanding Risk: Invasive Species Prevention, Dr. Robert P. Kahn, Senior Scientist (retired), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), US Department of Agriculture.
January 14 - Lecture: Ecology of Invasive Species, Professor Teresa Hanlon, Biology Department
January 16 - Lecture: Economics of Invasive Species, Professor Jim Kahn
We will decide as a group how to construct our information resources on invasive species. Some things that I would like to include in our set of deliverables are:
A comprehensive bibliography
A set of case studies on particular invasive species problems at different spatial scales (local, regional global)
A set of position papers on important invasive species issues
An evaluation of alternative policies to deal with the invasive species problem