New Course Offering on Urban Ecology/Sustainable Communities for Fall 2010 Term

The Analysis of Urban Ecosystems course is being offered this Fall as a Topics in Biology course (BSC 5935 U02; 3 credits). The course is being co-taught by Dr. Jim Heffernan of the Department of Biological Sciences and the Southeast Environmental Research Center, Laura Ogden of Global and Socio-Cultural Studies, and Rosanna Rivero of the Everglades Foundation, and is cross-listed as Sustainable Communities (ISS 5166: Seminar in Sustainable Communities). The course is a component of the NSF-funded ULTRA (Urban Long Term Research Area) exploratory award, and is affiliated with an NCEAS distributed graduate seminar on the state of sustainability science.

Objectives for the course are to provide both a broad conceptual background in human-environment interactions (including social, economic, and ecological processes), and to introduce students to some of the approaches and data available for the study of such systems. To meet those objectives, the class will be participating in a distributed graduate seminar run by the University of Minnesota through the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara. The speaker list includes prominent scholars from both the ecological and social sides of sustainability science, but the seminar has formal structure to encourage active graduate student participation.

The second component of the course will be a hands-on, product oriented effort to understand relationships among the socio-economic and ecological structure of the Miami-Dade urban ecosystem and their potential responses to environmental change such as sea level rise. The planned emphasis is on the use of GIS to evaluate existing demographic and habitat data along with elevation, but higher enrollment will allow us to expand the scope of the questions, approaches, and analysis. For those without any GIS background, Rosanna Rivero will provide support for analysis of spatial databases.

The course is scheduled to meet Monday from 4-7 pm at MMC. The NCEAS seminar will generally occupy the first half of the session, and the Miami-focused research projects the second. If you are interested in the course, please contact Jim Heffernan at jheffer@fiu.edu for a permission number.