Fall 2013 Course Offering
The Ecology of Food
A semester in the Rocky Mountain West
This course will be offered Fall, 2013. This course will NOT be offered in 2012.
The application due date is April 1, 2013.
You’ve all seen the statistics. For example:
o The average U.S. meal travels 1500 miles before it reaches the table.
o Producing one hamburger uses 630 gallons of water.
o Humans directly or indirectly use about 40% of all energy produced by terrestrial plants in the world.
Where do these statistics come from and what do they look like on the ground? The purpose of this semester is to find out, while practicing the skills of scientific inquiry and communication. We will travel from the Colorado Highlands and the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab down the Colorado River all the way to Mexico, and along the way we will visit relatively intact natural ecosystems and ones laser leveled and completely devoted to head lettuce. We will experience organic farms and large-scale dairies, small country towns and Las Vegas. At each place we will ask: what food is produced and consumed in this place and what are the consequences and costs for water, for energy and carbon and resource use, and for biodiversity and natural ecosystems. Throughout, our approach will be two-pronged. First we will understand and be rigorous about the science. We will look at the data, do the statistics, find the conclusions and write the research papers. Second, we will learn to communicate the science to non-scientists, to blend the science with the personal stories we’ve gathered, to reach and move an audience using effective story lines and various forms of media. In the end, we will return to the Colorado Mountain Communities of Paonia and Crested Butte to share our findings with the communities and discuss their implications for the future.
Work beside the experts. Understand the science of complex systems. Learn to apply scientific methods to social issues. Develop the ability to communicate effectively about scientific processes and findings. Explore whole systems and the rich territory where different academic disciplines intersect. Improve teamwork and leadership skills. Earn 15 credits. Travel, have adventures, and experience the West first hand, from the high mountains to Mexico.
o 10-20 college students from around the United States.
o 12 Weeks. Dates TBA, Fall, 2013
o Cost $9500. Some scholarships available.
o Pre-requisites: One year college biology, social science, or environmental studies.
o 15 college credits:
o The Ecology of Food. Science. 6 credits.
o Multi-media Science Communication. Communications. 6 Credits.
o Outdoor leadership. Education. 3 credits.
Overview of the three Classes (15 credits total):
1. The Ecology of Food. Science. 6 credits. Minimum of 150 hours of teacher-led instruction and activities. An additional 150+ hours of supplemental learning: reading, research, writing, practice, etc.
o Ability to apply the scientific process to complex social and environmental issues
o Skill at analyzing and interpreting large, multi-variable data sets and systems using scientific methods and statistics.
o Ability to integrate data sets with local experience and direct application.
o Experience designing and carrying out scientific studies.
o Skill at writing and presenting scientific papers.
o First hand experience with role models. Students will have met and worked beside and received instruction from multiple trained scientists
o Each student will write, sometimes individually and sometimes as part of a team, at least 6 scientific papers that use, analyze and interpret data to answer questions relevant to food issues in the west. Final papers will have incorporated significant editing and feedback and adhere to professional formats.
2. Multi-media Science Communication. Communications. 6 Credits. Minimum of 150 hours of teacher-led instruction and activities. An additional 150+ hours of student engagement including: reading, research, writing, practice, etc.
o Understanding strategies for effective communication of science.
o Development of strong writing and presentation skills.
o Strong Interview skills
o Ability to tell multiple accurate and compelling stories, based on both science and personal experience about food issues in the west.
o Effective use of at least two forms of media,
o First hand experience alongside role models. Students will have met, worked beside and received instruction from multiple experts in science communication.
o Students will have produced and presented at least 6 polished forms of science communication (e.g. essays, blog, radio show, multi-media public presentation, etc.). Each final presentation will have incorporated significant editing and feedback and will be based upon (1) scientific results, (2) personal interviews conducted by the student, (3) readings, and (4) personal experience and observation.
o Students will have created and delivered two formal presentations to the communities of Paonia and Crested Butte.
3. Outdoor leadership. Education. 3 credits. Minimum of 75 hours of teacher-led instruction and activities. An additional 75+ hours of student application: reading, writing, practice, etc.
o Students will be aware of their communication and roles within group settings and have experimented with diverse approaches.
o Students will become more effective at working as part of a team.
o Students will be experienced and skilled at facilitating group process, from brainstorming to decision-making to evaluation.
o Students will be conversant in general theories of group development and function.
o Students will have produced multiple papers and presentations, cooked meals, raised tents and made decisions as part of a group and received feedback from group members and instructors about their effectiveness.
There will be 1-2 course leaders, depending on group size, who will facilitate and help teach all three classes and all aspects of the semester. One leader will be Dev Carey, PhD, who has taught ecology and sustainability and outdoor leadership in the West for over two decades and has led semesters in the southwest focused on the Colorado River for Sterling College. Additional instructors in the ecology of food, science communication, and outdoor leadership will contribute to the course.
For more information, please contact Dr. Dev Carey at devbrennan AT gmail DOT com or the RMBL Science Director at sd AT rmbl DOT org