Cole, M. L. Boston University Marine Program, mlcole@bio.bu.edu
Valiela, I. Boston University Marine Program, valiela@bio.bu.edu

 
AN APPROACH TO TEACHING ECOLOGY: LINKING THEORY, RESEARCH, AND MANAGEMENT ISSUES
 
We teach students about coastal ecology while simultaneously enhancing motivation to learn, making evident the need to acquire basic knowledge, clarifying how research is done and showing how research results are put to work on real-world issues. We first assemble stakeholders who meet with the class, and convey their concerns about a particular estuarine issue. We structure the stakeholder concerns into relevant questions, and design a research program to answer the questions. The groups begin their research and learn teamwork, field and laboratory skills, while class lectures cover basic estuarine ecology. Students work up data, results are written up and reviewed as if the students were submitting manuscripts for publication. At the end, students present their work in a series of talks to the stakeholders, bringing closure to the process. For a final exam, students write an executive summary of the studied estuary's status from analyses of the project results, and in terms of ecological concepts learned. The students take away from this class not only ecological concepts and theories, and field and lab skills, but also the sense that ecology can be used to aid stakeholders, managers, and policy makers in decisions about environmental issues.
 
Day: Wednesday, Feb. 3
Time: 10:45 - 11:00am
Location: Eldorado Hotel
 
Code: SS53WE1045E