Instructors: Adopt “Observation and Ecology” for Your Class

Anibal and I are working to encourage friends and colleagues to adopt Observation and Ecology for college classes in a range of fields.

The book is compact and affordable ($30 or less from Amazon and Powells and other retailers in paper or e-reader) and it tells the story of how the life sciences are changing to cope with the rate and extent of changes to our planet with a compelling narrative and a new perspective that your students won’t find in existing texts or papers.  We have also brought in short text box contributions from a fantastic array of well-known and emerging voices in ecology, natural history, and environmental studies, including Geerat Vermeij, Stuart Pimm, Julie Lockwood, Tom Stohlgren, Anne Salomon, and Gary Nabhan.  Here’s a sample from Ricardo Rozzi’s story of how a near death experience in peat bog brought him new insight about the diversity of a forgotten taxonomic group in southern Chile:

RozziBox

We think this book will generate excitement and engaged discussion among your students.

So far the comments and reviews we have received highlight that the book is easy to read, engaging, and provocative. We think those characteristics are particularly appropriate to motivate undergrad and grad students who are entering careers in ecology and other natural sciences.

To help your incorporation of this book, we have created a study guide that captures both the content of each chapter, but also promotes “Beyond the Book” project-based learning with suggested research projects and activities that can be done in small groups or in lab sessions:

https://observationandecology.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/oe-study-questions.pdf

Some examples of classes that could benefit from adopting “Observation and Ecology” include:

  • Introductory Ecology: will serve as a supplementary text with a more holistic treatment of ecology than earlier supplemental texts (e.g., Gotelli’s excellent, “A Primer of Ecology” is more focused on theory and models)
  • Ecology Seminar (upper division undergrad, mixed ugrad/grad): provides numerous examples of cutting edge ecological research in relation to environmental change
  • Philosophy of Biology (undergrad): provides a primer on basic philosophical concepts (Karl Popper, “strong inference”, deduction, etc.) as they are applied to real studies
  • Introductory Environmental Science (undergrad): uses real world examples to connect ecological observation, environmental science, and policy
  • Ecological Methodology (ugrad/grad): not a methods book, but clearly contextualizes the challenges, opportunities, and outcomes of newer methodologies using real examples
  • Environmental Policy and Conservation Biology (ugrad): illustrates with cogent examples the overlap between natural history driven science and policy outcomes
  • Environmental Education (ugrad/grad): takes a non-theoretical approach to the linkage between nature experience and observation and educational outcomes at multiple developmental levels

Island Press would be happy to furnish instructors with exam copies: http://www.islandpress.org/educators.html, and Aníbal and I would be happy to work with you on integrating the book material with your course, and of course to make guest appearances in your class!

-Rafe

About Rafe

Rafe Sagarin is a marine ecologist and environmental policy analyst at the University of Arizona. In both his science and policy work, Sagarin connects basic observations of nature to issues of broad societal interest, including conservation biology, protecting public trust resources, and making responses to terrorism and other security threats more adaptable. Dr. Sagarin is a recipient of a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship and has recently published two books, Learning from the Octopus (Basic Books, March 2012) and Observation and Ecology (Island Press, July 2012), which show how nature observation--when extended across large scales and enhanced with both new technologies and greater deference to traditional knowledge sources—is revealing profound new insights about our dynamic social and ecological world. He was a Geological Society of America Congressional Science Fellow in the office of U.S. Representative (and later U.S. Secretary of Labor) Hilda Solis. He has taught ecology and environmental policy at Duke University, California State University Monterey Bay, Stanford University, University of California, Los Angeles and University of Arizona. His research has appeared in Science, Nature, Conservation Biology, Ecological Monographs, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Foreign Policy, Homeland Security Affairs and other leading journals, magazines, and newspapers. He is the editor, with Terence Taylor of the volume Natural Security: A Darwinian Approach to a Dangerous World (2008, University of California Press).
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