Urban Ecology

ECOL 3770S: Urban Ecology (a service learning course)

The world is becoming more and more urbanized; over 80% of the US population and 50% of the world’s population living in cities. This course will use a socio-ecological framework to study how urbanization influences biodiversity, ecosystem function, and the provisioning of ecosystem services to human populations. We will study the effects of urbanization among regions with variable climate, time since human settlement, and socio-economic conditions. Key topics we will consider include biodiversity and the management of plant and animal populations, biogeochemical cycling and ecosystem metabolism, and human population growth, development trajectories, and environmental justice. Students will be responsible for mastering both biophysical and social science concepts in this course. We will consider global, regional, and local urban issues, using lectures, activities using primary scientific literature, and through student oral and written reports.

The course includes a service-learning project during the semester that either employs skills or knowledge learned in the course or teaches new skills or knowledge related to course objectives. Student engagement in the service-learning component will be up to 25% of overall instruction time.

Content-Based Learning Objectives:

By the end of the course the successful student will:

  • Understand and discuss socio-ecological systems thinking
  • Understand and discuss how urbanization affects physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of ecosystems
  • Be able to read, interpret, and synthesize primary literature on urban ecology
  • Make scientifically informed decisions about societal issues related to urban areas
  • Be able to discuss cities as systems of natural, social, and built components
  • Be familiar with the history of urban ecology
  • Be able to relate the content of this course to other courses and experiences
  • Have a greater personal understanding of the ecological and social aspects of urban ecology

Skill-Based Learning Objectives:

By the end of the course the successful student will:

  • Integrate art, music, or creative writing with their knowledge of urban ecology
  • Work individually and in groups in a service-based environment
  • Gain experience using software programs including, but not limited to: Excel, Word, PowerPoint
  • Generate written products and complete oral presentations integrating scientific knowledge with experiences in service-learning
  • Obtain experience working with and producing products for clients
  • Be able to apply the content from this course to real-world situations

More information about this course will be provided as the course is developed.