Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology Lab

Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology Lab

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Biogeochemistry and Global Change: Material from 2016

Welcome to the Biol 510 webpage. The 2016 version of this course was entitled: Biogeochemistry, Buddhism, and Global Change

This ecology course will examine the underlying causes of global change issues at levels ranging from biogeochemical processes through to human behaviour. The aim of the course is to develop students' perspectives on the relationship between ecology and the sustainability of our current civilisation. Students will lead informal seminar discussions on some component of this theme that is of particular interest to them.
This course is for final year undergraduates and is specifically aimed at enhancing their capacities for critical thinking, intelligent open discussion, group work, and independent learning. By the end of the course, students should be able to critique the potential for Buddhist philosophical perspectives to help our society in addressing global change issues.

Initial sessions will provide an overview of the Earth’s major global change issues, the underlying biogeochemistry, and various Buddhist philosophical perspectives on our civilisation’s predicament. The principal questions that this course will address are:
How might Buddhist philosophical perspectives be useful in addressing global change issues?
Could the concept of mindfulness be useful in promoting sustainable ecological behaviour?

Learning outcomes:

By the end of this course, the student should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of several major global change issues that integrates ecological, economic and social perspectives
  2. Critically assess the constraints (ecological, economic, social, behavioural and political) that underlie society’s responses to global change issues 
  3. Discuss and evaluate how human biology, biogeochemistry and global change can be linked through Buddhist philosophical perspectives
  4. Search, critically assess, and synthesize primary and secondary literature in the natural and social sciences
  5. Justify and actively promote mindful awareness as a means to initiate social action on a chosen global change issue
  6. Develop and present cohesive, original syntheses on the potential of mindfulness and other Buddhist philosophical perspectives to influence the future sustainability of our civilisation

Professor: Paul Grogan

Seminar times: Mondays 10.00; Wednesdays 08.30; (sessions are 1.5 hours)
Location: Room 3110, Biosciences building

Links: 

 

Assessment:

15% Active participation in discussions (questions, comments, suggestions)
15% Seminar written questions
10% Seminar
30% Group projects
30% Final Essay (Thesis argument: Buddhist philosophical perspectives, including mindfulness, provide the ultimate solution to achieving a sustainable civilization)

 

Schedule:

Week beginning Day and time Convenor Topic Reading
4th January Monday 10.00
Paul
No lecture  
 

Wednesday
08.30

Paul
Introduction  
11th January Monday 10.00
Paul

How ought we to live?

Paul’s talk: How ought we to live?- Human behaviour is the ultimate sustainability issue

Williams et al, 2011. Mindfulness. Chapter 5. Waking Up to the Autopilot.

 

Wednesday
08.30

Paul How ought we to live? (continued) Paul’s talk: How ought we to live?- Human behaviour is the ultimate sustainability issue
18th January Monday 10.00 Paul Why is the Anthropocene concept so fundamentally important to mindful living and our future sustainability?

Steffen et al, 2011. The Anthropocene: From Global change to Planetary Stewardship. Ambio 40:739-761.

 

Wednesday
08.30

Haley Roher and Claire Boileau

How do we know we are entering a global state-shift and how do we prevent this from occurring?

Barnosky et al, 2012. Approaching a state shift in the Earth’s biosphere. Nature 486:52-58.

25th January Monday 10.00 Jackie Weber and Leah Hayes

Might the "cultural mosaic" society of Canada be the ideal place to develop solutions to our global sustainability crisis that could have a truly GLOBAL impact?

Bradshaw et al, 2014. Human population reduction is not a quick fix for environmental problems. PNAS 111(46):16610-16615.

 

Wednesday
08.30

Olivia Weller and Delaney Jacobs Assuming we can develop technological solutions, how do we combine them with the necessary behavioural changes to create a sustainable future?

Fischer et al, 2012. Human behaviour and sustainability. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 10: 153-160.

1st February Monday 10.00 Jessica Ruprecht and Marissa Lusito

Since we know our genetic drives are the problem, how can cultural evolution lead to a global solution?

Aarssen. 2015. What are we?  Exploring the evolutionary roots of our future. Chapter 12 – Becoming the solution.

 

Wednesday
08.30

Sierra Martin and Julia Yeung

How can Buddhist philosophy initiate internal (personal) change to the extent that it initiates external (social) change?

Barash. 2013. Buddhist Biology. Chapter 1. A Science Sutra.

8th February Monday 10.00 Kira McKillop and Hanna Bradshaw

In what ways can we coalesce biology, Buddhism, and existentialism to embed in us a sense of responsibility, as well as a desire, to live a more sustainable life?

Barash. 2013. Buddhist Biology. Chapter 7. Meaning (Existential Bio-Buddhism?).

 

Wednesday
08.30

Kyrstin Coughlin and John MacKinnon

How can mindfulness trick our genetic drive for novelty to ensure that sustainable living does not become a fad—ultimately avoiding society’s “hedonic treadmill”?

Ericson et al, 2015. Mindfulness and sustainability. Ecological Economics 104:73-79.

15th February Monday 10.00   No lecture - Reading week

Reading week. Thich Nhat Hanh – Peace Is Every Step

 

Wednesday
08.30

  No lecture - Reading week

Reading week. Thich Nhat Hanh –Peace Is Every Step

22nd February Monday 10.00   'Walking the walk': Project development

 

 

Wednesday
08.30

  'Walking the walk': Project development  
29th February Monday 10.00   'Walking the walk': Project development  
 

Wednesday
08.30

  Project 1: Electronic distractions Mindfulness practice and reflections on links to sustainability; Blog post; Essay draft prep.
7th March Monday 10.00   Project 1 continued Mindfulness practice and reflections on links to sustainability; Blog post; Essay draft prep.
 

Wednesday
08.30

  Project 2: Food consumption Mindfulness practice and reflections on links to sustainability; Blog post; Summary to facebook page; Essay draft prep.
14th March Monday 10.00   Project 2 continued

Mindfulness practice and reflections on links to sustainability; Blog post; Mindful pot luck

Essay draft outline submission deadline (Monday 14th in class)

 

Wednesday
08.30

  Project 3: Waste products Mindfulness practice and reflections on links to sustainability; Blog post; Summary to facebook page; Essay final version prep.
21st March Monday 10.00   Project 3 continued Mindfulness practice and reflections on links to sustainability; Blog post; Essay final version prep.
 

Wednesday
08.30

   

Summary to facebook page; Summary Video - planning

Essay final submission deadline Thursday March 24th (by 3pm)

28th March Monday 10.00   No class  
 

Wednesday
08.30

Paul Synthesis Summary Video - recording
Whiteboard outlining class themes/topics
The Buddhist philosophy-Biogeochemistry-Global Change relationship: Whiteboard summary at the end of the final synthesis discussion session
 
Class of 2016!  Back row: Hanna Bradshaw, Kyrstin Coughlin, John MacKinnon, Jessica Ruprecht, Yours truly, Jackie Weber and Sierra Martin; Front row: Kira McKillop, Claire Boileau, Haley Roher, Leah Hayes, Olivia Weller, Marissa Lusito, and Julia Yeung. (Delaney Jacobs was also part of our class, but was not present for the photo)

Last Updated: 18 May 2016