Given my expertise and the various graduate courses I took, I could also teach wildlife ecology, conservation biology, conservation education, behavioural ecology, ecotoxicology and fisheries and wildlife biology/management. Below, I elaborate on three courses at different stages of development.
I have drafted a syllabus for this highly innovative, community-service learning course for third and fourth year students. The concept and syllabus have been reviewed by three Canadian leaders in conservation outreach, all of whom endorsed it wholeheartedly.
This course has a dual-purpose. First, it is designed to give students an overview of and practical experience with conservation education. Second, it aims to contribute effectively to the conservation of wildlife. Students are given the chance to change mindsets, by working to (1) raise awareness here at home and (2) funds to promote conservation work in neighbouring countries.
There are lectures and tutorials, but little traditional lecturing. Lecture periods are devoted to principles and theory of conservation education as well as discussing readings, and focus heavily on active learning. Tutorials are largely devoted to the actual deliverables. More specifically, students work collaboratively to create a programme to deliver the conservation message to schools, and each cohort focuses on one level of primary or secondary school. The course builds on itself, so that each cohort goes out to deliver the programme developed by its predecessors as it works on a new one. Students are evaluated based on their contributions to this programme and their delivery. The other components of assessment include a reflective learning journal and an assessment of a local conservation education programme or site.
Fundraising for conservation of wildlife is achieved through a charity created for this purpose. Efforts include public seminars and other events, as well as reasonable fees charged for presentations in schools. The money is then donated to reputable organisations that focus on educating locals (children and adults) and offering alternative livelihoods to reduce practices that threaten wildlife.
This course provides a platform for students to take a case-study approach to environmental disasters. It is designed to increasing their understanding of historically-important disasters from a number of perspectives (e.g., biological, ecological, social, economic). It is especially well-suited to students who are considering careers in policy analysis and crisis management, but any environmental studies student should find it edifying. Overall, by giving students the opportunity to critically analyse environmental disasters, this course prepares them to some extent to deal with a future in which, environmental disasters are likely to become more frequent and severe.
There are lectures and tutorials, but little traditional lecturing. The mode of instruction is the case study approach, a good example of active inquiry-based learning (IBL). The instructor plays a key role, by presenting the case and then leading the discussion, based on readings assigned beforehand and students’ own prior knowledge. Lecture periods are devoted to presenting cases and answering students’ questions about them, whereas tutorials are devoted solely to analysing the cases. Students are evaluated on the basis of their participation, a research paper and two exams (midterm and final).
The tentative list of disasters to be covered is:
- Union-Carbide plant disaster in Bhopal, India (industrialisation, poverty, chemicals)
- DDT and eggshell thinning (pesticide use)
- Mercury poisoning in Minamata, Japan (heavy metal contamination of the aquatic environment)
- Deepwater Horizon OR Exxon Valdez (demand for oil and lax regulations)
- Gulf of Mexico OR Lake Erie dead zone (eutrophication)
- Pacific gyre garbage patch (overconsumption)
- Shrinking of the Aral Sea (impact of agricultural demand for water)
- Introduction of rabbits to Australia (invasive species)
- Mountain pine beetle, Boreal Forest of Canada (interaction between climate change and monoculture)
- Agent Orange (war)
- Fukushima disaster (nuclear energy – is it a safe alternative?)
FISHERIES AND WILDLIFE BIOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT
I am in the preliminary phase of planning a course that teaches the principles and practices of responsibly managing fisheries and wildlife populations to upper-level students. At this early stage, some key topics I envisage are: history of fisheries and wildlife management, estimation of populations, economic evaluation of fishery and wildlife resources, management of habitats (including creation of protected areas), fisheries and wildlife harvest and wildlife disease. I could use a case study approach in class and a hands-on approach in lab or tutorial time, e.g., incorporating field trips, workshops on techniques. It would also be useful to have students critically analyse a current, local effort to manage fisheries or wildlife resources.