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EARTHSYS 179: The Science & Practice of Valuing Nature for a Better World (BIO 179, BIO 279, EARTHSYS 279)

This course explores the science of valuing nature, through two interwoven pathways. One is biophysical, focused on human dependence and impacts on Earth's life-support systems. If well managed, lands, waters, and biodiversity yield a flow of vital benefits that sustain and fulfill human life. We will develop a framework and practical tools for quantifying this stream of benefits from nature to people. The second pathway is social, economic, and philosophical, weaving through concepts of well-being, human development, and conservation and the ethics and effects of their pursuit. We will look back, ahead into the future, and inward, taking a global view and considering diverse cultural perspectives. Our discussions will be situated in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, movements for racial justice and socioeconomic equity, and efforts to enable people and nature to thrive in cities and countries worldwide. The course is intended for diverse, advanced students, with interests in resea more »
This course explores the science of valuing nature, through two interwoven pathways. One is biophysical, focused on human dependence and impacts on Earth's life-support systems. If well managed, lands, waters, and biodiversity yield a flow of vital benefits that sustain and fulfill human life. We will develop a framework and practical tools for quantifying this stream of benefits from nature to people. The second pathway is social, economic, and philosophical, weaving through concepts of well-being, human development, and conservation and the ethics and effects of their pursuit. We will look back, ahead into the future, and inward, taking a global view and considering diverse cultural perspectives. Our discussions will be situated in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, movements for racial justice and socioeconomic equity, and efforts to enable people and nature to thrive in cities and countries worldwide. The course is intended for diverse, advanced students, with interests in research and in moving from science to action for a more just and sustainable world. Prerequisite: Basic to intermediate GIS (Geographic Information Systems) skills are necessary. We will help with these, but not teach GIS specifically in class. Basic skills include, for example: working with raster, vector and tabular data; loading rasters, shapefiles, and tables into a GIS; changing the symbology of rasters and shapefiles in your chosen GIS; editing raster and shapefile attribute tables; understanding coordinate systems and how to re-project layers; looking at individual raster cell values; and performing basic raster math.
Terms: Aut | Units: 1-3
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