Conservation of Biological Diversity (Fall 2017)
This course is designed to help students understand the conservation of biodiversity as a complex, multidisciplinary endeavor ultimately grounded in human values. Biodiversity conservation is enabled and constrained by our understanding of biological systems; measurement of ecological health; technological capacity; economic values and incentives; global and local political and governance systems; and philosophical stances on what it means to be human on Planet Earth. This course addresses each of these dimensions of conservation and draws on key cases to demonstrate their intersection in practice. The first half of this course begins by exploring competing ideas about how to measure biodiversity, what conservation means, and why we should do it. We then turn to the history and significance of extinction and evolution and the challenges and controversies that characterize conservation in an increasingly anthropogenic world. The last half of the course covers major threats to biodiversity and the interventions designed to address them.