Resilience Class of 2015


2015 Resilience Course Poster — May 18th to June 1st at the Hakai Institute on Calvert Island, BC

Course Overview

Managing for ecological and social resilience has become a priority in contemporary approaches to conservation and a central theme in advancing our understanding of coupled social-ecological systems. Despite this, the extent to which resilience thinking is applied to real-world decision-making remains in its infancy. In collaboration with the Heiltsuk and Wuikinuxv First Nations, this interdisciplinary, graduate-level field class provides an in-depth exploration of the concept of resilience, both in theory and in practice, on the Central Coast of British Columbia, Canada, in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest. This course is composed of two modules focusing on resilience-based conservation and management of 1) coastal marine systems and 2) temperate rainforest systems. Each module is comprised of field activities, local case studies, internationally recognized guest lecturers, and interactive group dialogues. Cross-cutting themes linking these modules include nonlinearities and alternative state dynamics, transformation and adaptive capacity of social-ecological systems, traditional management practices, integration of traditional knowledge into research and management, and First Nations rights and self-determination. Following these introductory modules, students will work collaboratively with community members and researchers to design and carry out field-based research projects with the aim of publication. This 5 credit course is based out of the Hakai Institute on Calvert Island and Bella Bella, British Columbia, Canada.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Identify and synthesize the core principles of resilience theory
  1. Understand the key processes that drive social-ecological system dynamics and the factors that confer their resilience
  1. Work collaboratively with coastal communities, nongovernmental organizations and government agencies, on contemporary coupled social-ecological system problems to formulate and implement solutions
  1. Communicate complex conservation and management problems and alternative solutions clearly and effectively to the general public, government agencies and nongovernmental organizations
Photo by Anne Salomon

Resilience Class of 2013

Photo by Anne Salomon.

Resilience Class of 2012

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Course Overview

This course explores the scientific foundations of applied ecology and highlights contemporary conservation strategies designed to balance the needs of people and nature. Six contemporary problem-based modules motivate the exploration of specific applied ecological concepts. For example:

1) Reserve Design: island biogeography, metapopulations and source sink dynamics

2) Ecosystem Services: biodiversity and ecosystem function, valuation methods

3) Ecosystem-Based Management: keystone species & trophic cascades, shifting baselines

4) Managing for Resilience: community stability, alternative state dynamics, functional redundancy

5) Imperilled Species: Allee effects, exponential & logistic growth, matrix modelling, PVA

6) Global Challenges & Solutions; habitat loss, land conversion, food security and climate change, biotic homogenization & introduced species.

Course readings will include textbook chapters to provide students with the foundations of applied ecology, and cutting-edge, peer-reviewed literature to expose students to the latest innovations in the field of conservation science. Students will also have the opportunity to apply field and modelling approaches to real-world conservation issues. Half and full day field trips to local conservancies and parks will allow students to develop practical field research skills. Finally, classroom sessions will engage students in lively group discussions and will include lectures, hands-on analysis, guest speakers, and group work on current and contentious topics in conservation science.

Overall Class Goals

As new and aspiring graduate students, my aim is to facilitate your development of the skills and knowledge you will need to excel in the field of environmental management and conservation, whether you aspire to be an academic or NGO researcher, government manager, or the like. This class has been designed to hone your creative and critical thinking skills, enhance your communication and debating ability, and expose you to a diverse set of problem solving techniques. I encourage you to challenge current dogma and explore the intersections between applied ecology, your own personal academic interests and the diversity of fields you will be exposed to at REM.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Identify and synthesize the core principles of ecology that should be considered while addressing an environmental issue
  1. Understand the key processes that drive ecosystem dynamics and their associated uncertainties
  1. Communicate complex and/or contentious ecological information clearly and effectively to a target audience
  1. Work independently and collaboratively on contemporary environmental problems to formulate and implement solutions

Required Textbook

Kareiva, P. and Marvier, M. 2011. Conservation Science; Balancing the Needs of People and Nature. Roberts and Company. Greenwood Village, Colorado.
(available at the Burnaby Campus bookstore) 

Field Trips

1. Light House Park: Marine Protected Area Design and Analysis

2. Lower-Seymour Conservation Reserve: Temperate Rainforest EBM (see the 2012 report here)

Photo by Anne Salomon.

Photo by Anne Salomon.

Photo by Anne Salomon.