Earth and Environmental Sciences

Greatest Hits in Vertebrate Evolution  –  Carlos Peredo
(Session 2)
This course will serve as an introductory course designed to introduce students to the concepts of evolution by studying the fossil record. The course will cover some of the major transitions in the evolution of vertebrates, such as the emergence of fish onto land, the origins of flight in dinosaurs, and the transition to bipedality in early hominids. We will pay extra attention to my area of expertise: major evolutionary transitions in marine mammals, including their return to the sea from land, the origin of echolocation, and the transition to filter feeding. This course will aim to teach students about the broader biological mechanisms that drive natural history and will involve both traditional and hands on learning opportunities.

Life, Death and Change: Landscapes and Human Impact  –  David Michener
(Session 1)
 You’ll never see the same world quite the same way after this course – which is important if you want to make a difference with your life. All environmental studies presume a landscape- yet what seems to be a simple landscape is often far from uniform or stable. A great deal of information critical to anyone entering the “green” sciences can be detected for analysis- including factors that may fundamentally control species diversity, habitat richness, and animal (let alone human) behavior. Resolving human from non-human agency is an engaging and important challenge, too -one scientists and “green professionals” grapple with repeatedly. This outdoor class immerses students in real-world landscapes, ranging from the nearly-pristine to the highly humanized, to solve problems which may initially appear impossible to address. You can! Your critical thinking skills are essential rather than prior biological course and field work. Come prepared to look, measure, analyze, discus and learn how the interaction of plants, soils, climate and time (and humans) influences landscape development. Develop basic skills in plant recognition and identification – skills that you can transfer to other terrestrial communities. Address questions about the current vegetation, its stability over time and its future prospects. Gain practical insights into the realities of biological conservation as we address how we can manage species and landscapes for future generations. By the end you’ll have a conceptual skill set that helps you assess how stable and disturbed are the “natural” areas near your home and prepares you to put instructors on the spot in college classes to come.