ENVR E-210: Proseminar: Critical Analysis of Environmental Systems

Semester: 

Fall
  • Professor: Mark Leighton
  • Term: Fall
  • Days: Th
  • Time: 8:10-10:10PM, or on demand
  • School: Harvard Extension School
  • Course ID: 13757

Understanding the dynamics of complex ecological and environmental systems and designing policies to promote their sustainability is a formidable challenge. Both the practitioner and policymaker must be able to evaluate scientific research, recognizing fundamental pitfalls in research design and data interpretation. Moreover, most important environmental problems involve interactions among variables as dynamic systems, so forecasting the impacts of potential environmental changes or policy interventions is critical. To develop these skills, students conduct practical exercises illustrating a range of modeling techniques, including statistical analysis of ecological and environmental data, and system dynamics modeling. Computer simulation modeling ranges across diverse issues in sustainability science, such as climate change, human population dynamics, population viability analysis of endangered species, and economic appraisal of projects that have an impact on natural resources. The course also focuses on developing skills in scientific writing, critiquing primary research literature, and communicating about environmental science. Quantitative techniques are taught at an introductory level; some data analysis and simulation modeling is conducted using Excel spreadsheets. Online students are invited to attend sustainability and environmental management campus events scheduled around the Monday section on stakeholder negotiation.