- Class Number 3414
- Term Code 3130
- Class Info
- Unit Value 6 units
- Mode of Delivery In Person
- Dr Robert Dyball
- Dr Robert Dyball
- Class Dates
- Class Start Date 22/02/2021
- Class End Date 28/05/2021
- Census Date 31/03/2021
- Last Date to Enrol 01/03/2021
- Pele Cannon
The course applies the principles of ecosystem sciences to the study of the human environment. The emphasis is on the significance and function of ecosystems, how humans have affected these systems over time, and what are the opportunities of and barriers to making positive changes. Dynamical systems thinking and the concept of coupled social ecological system is introduced as a powerful means of comprehending the behaviour of these complex situations. Field trips allow students to experience first-hand the complexity of these human-ecological interactions and the challenges of managing them sustainably. In the latter half of the course, human-nature interactions over human history are critically reviewed, including hunter gatherer societies, early agricultural societies and modern globalised urban and industrial societies. Some key contemporary challenges facing humanity in the Anthropocene are presented for critical reflection. Students extend their understanding of one of these challenges in their final research report and presentation.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- Demonstrate a basic understanding of Human Ecology, including knowledge of the history and background to the topic.
- Demonstrate an understanding of key linkages between ecosystem and social processes and how they relate to human-nature interactions, and to integrate this understanding with knowledge drawn from their own degree backgrounds.
- Use a basic systems approach to ‘get at' an understanding of the complex, multi-scaled, interactions that characterize human-ecological situations, and their associated problems.
- Apply this understanding in to a significant contemporary challenge facing humanity in the Anthropocene.
- Communicate human ecological systems approaches to social-environmental challenges to a range of audiences in effective written and oral form.
Through workshops and readings the course develops a systems based approach to interdisciplinary research into complex human-environmental problems. These concepts
are applied to analyse research being done to foster transitions to sustainable futures. The students then develop and undertake research into one of five topical areas of concern covered in later lectures, reading, and tutorial. These are recorded as short audio-visual presentations.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the field trip for 2021 is virtual based on resources provided and student's own research.
Additional Course Costs
As the field trip is virtual for all students there are no field trip fees in 2021.
The wording in previous years was: There are additional field trip fees of approximately $120 applicable to participation in this course (payment to ANU Science Shop).
There are no additional resources required although the purchase of the textbook Understanding Human Ecology (Dyball and Newell, 2015) is recommended (an electronic copy is in the ANU library).
Recommended student system requirements
ANU courses commonly use a number of online resources and activities including:
- video material, similar to YouTube, for lectures and other instruction
- two-way video conferencing for interactive learning
- email and other messaging tools for communication
- interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities
- print and photo/scan for handwritten work
- home-based assessment.
To fully participate in ANU learning, students need:
- A computer or laptop. Mobile devices may work well but in some situations a computer/laptop may be more appropriate.
- Speakers and a microphone (e.g. headset)
- Reliable, stable internet connection. Broadband recommended. If using a mobile network or wi-fi then check performance is adequate.
- Suitable location with minimal interruptions and adequate privacy for classes and assessments.
- Printing, and photo/scanning equipment
For more information please see https://www.anu.edu.au/students/systems/recommended-student-system-requirements
Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
1. Written feedback will be given on all submitted assignments
2. Written comments will be made on systems diagrams, where used
3. Verbal comments will be made on tutorial contributions
4. Verbal comments to the whole class will be made on general issues in assignments
5. Individual feedback will be given upon request.
ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.
|Week/Session||Summary of Activities||Assessment|
|1||Lecture 1A - Introduction: Course outline, proposed assessment and presumed knowledge Lecture 1B - What is Human Ecology? What is the challenge and what conceptual tools will you need to meet it Tutorial: Consultation on the course outline and assessment followed by an exercise on the need for collaborative teams in complex problem-solving.|
|2||Lecture 2A - Our Place in the Biosphere: Some evolutionary and ecological perspective Lecture 2B - Evolving approaches to Human Ecology A brief history of some key ideas Tutorial: Collaborating on solving complex problems|
|3||Lecture 3A - Canberra Day Lecture 3B - Fundamental Environmental Processes What makes life possible? Tutorial: What is the challenge?|
|4||Lecture 4A - Justice, Fairness, Wellbeing What makes life worthwhile? Lecture 4B - Unravelling Complexity Simple yet powerful concepts underpinning systems thinking Tutorial: Justice and fairness.|
|5||Lecture 5A - It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time Introducing the Snowy Mountains case study Lecture 5B - It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time Continuing the Snowy Mountains case study Tutorial: Causal loop diagrams of Snowy stakeholders|
|6||6A What Was That All About? - Review of stakeholder conflicts report 6B Report Writing Guide - What is in the rubric? Tutorial: Final questions and clarifications on report||Self-direct Systems-Thinking modules must be completed by 5 April|
|7||Lecture 7A - Filling the Earth: From hunting and gathering to the rise of the city – ideas that changed the world Lecture 7B - The Joy of Cola Profiling modern consumer society Tutorial: Technometabolism. Energy/emergy, material, and information flows in modern society||Snowy conflicts report due 12 April|
|8||Lecture 8A - ANZAC DAY View online video The Hong Kong Project Lecture 8B - Material Stocks and Flows: Estimating our impacts on the biosphere Tutorial: Culture as a force in nature|
|9||Lecture 9A - Future Scenarios Where are we and where do we want to be? Lecture 9B - Inclusion as an Ecological Imperative: Further issues in justice and fairness Tutorial: Future visioning|
|10||Lecture 10A - Can We Consumer Our Way to Sustainability?: The role of the consumer in a cyclical economy Lecture 10B - Cyclical Economies The world without waste Tutorial: Shifting from a linear to a circular economy|
|11||Lecture 11A - Healthy People on a Healthy Planet The benefits of co-benefits Lecture 11B - Eat food, not too much, mostly plants, mostly local Tutorial: Co-benefits of planetary health for human wellbeing|
|12||Lecture 12A - Stewards of a Full Earth What might it mean to live well in a Full Earth? Lecture 12B - Celebrating the Anthropocene: ?Linking sustainability, environmental responsibility, and human well-being Tutorial: No readings. All undergraduate students give a summary report of progress on their Pecha-Kucha. Graduates give a research report update||Final assignments due June 15|
Tutorial registration via Wattle site
|Assessment task||Value||Due Date||Return of assessment||Learning Outcomes|
|Tutorial Participation||10 %||*||*||1,2|
|Complete Online Systems-Thinking Modules||10 %||05/04/2021||*||1,2|
|Field Trip Report||40 %||12/04/2021||27/04/2021||1,2,3,4|
|Pecha Kucha Seminar Report||40 %||15/06/2021||01/07/2021||2,4,5|
* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details
ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:
The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.
Moderation of Assessment
Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.
Active participation in, and contribution to, tutorials is required. Lectures can be attended live on campus and will be available recorded online. In-person and online tutorial options are offered. The systems thinking modules are online and to be completed at the student's discretion but before April 5th. The field trip is 'virtual', with interactive video recordings of stakeholders available on Wattle, along with other materials. Students will need to augment this material with their own research. The Pecha-Kucha presentations are recorded by students and uploaded to a Fenner 'youtube' site.
There is no formal examination for this course.
Assessment Task 1
Learning Outcomes: 1,2
Active participation in, and contribution to, tutorials is required. In-person and online tutorial options are offered but students who can attend on campus should do so. Each week’s readings will be accompanied by some ‘starter questions’. These are designed to initiate the conversation, but you are encouraged to expand with your own interests. If you just come to tutorials and do not contribute you will not get a high grade. Attendance at 10 out of 12 tutorial and workshop sessions is a course requirement.
Assessment Task 2
Learning Outcomes: 1,2
Complete Online Systems-Thinking Modules
There are ten short online learning modules designed to build and test your systems-thinking capabilities. The modules build on material given in lectures, readings, and tutorials across the first half of the semester. You are free to complete the modules any time that you like, but you must complete them by 5 April. The modules reveal correct answers or provide model answers to most exercises and test questions, after you have submitted responses. You get one grade point per module that you complete.
Assessment Task 3
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4
Field Trip Report
The field trip is virtual for all students in 2021. The assessment task remains as it was for previous years when students travelled.
The three-day field trip to the Snowy Mountains will present you with a wide range of perspectives from different stakeholders. Your task is to select two stakeholders (from a range of current and historically active groups) who are or were in conflict because their activities both affect (or are affected by) the same ecosystem service, and set out how this conflict came about, what have been its social and ecological consequences, and what might now be done about it.
You must describe what aspect of the environment is bringing the two parties into conflict, assuming the same finite stock of environmental resources cannot equally satisfy the demands of both.
It is a requirement that your discussion shows at least two properly notated system diagrams, one for each stakeholder, and reveals the common element bringing the two into conflict. The variables that you discuss will be both quantifiable, in which case you should provide at least approximate figures or estimates, as well as qualitative elements which might not be ‘countable’ but which you still should include. For both, you should say how, meaning in which ‘direction’, the amount of the variable is changing over time.
You must as fairly and accurately as possible set out the values and beliefs of both parties, describe the main institutions or rules that are governing their behaviour, and say what social benefits they see (or saw) as arising from what they do (or did), including to whom these benefits are, or should be, flowing.
Finally, you should argue, with evidence, whether the current situation is just and sustainable and, if it is not, what might be plausibly done to improve it. The tools you need to complete this task will be extensively covered in the first weeks of the course, before the field trip.
Due date: 5pm Tuesday 12th April.
Word limit: 2,500 words (inclusive of all table text, exclusive only of bibliography)
Presentation requirements: Submit via wattle.
Estimated return date: week commencing 26th April
Rubric: Please refer to course outline on Wattle
Individual Assessment in Group Tasks: This is an individual task. If you collaborate by sharing data gathered and observations made that is fine, but the submitted report must be your own. Reports containing material copied from each other will be treated as plagiarized and subject to the university’s rules on plagiarization.
Assessment Task 4
Learning Outcomes: 2,4,5
Pecha Kucha Seminar Report
Synthesis of course content via one of five focus questions. Each of these topics is covered in lectures and tutorials in the second half of the course. You are also expected to conduct independent research into your topic, just as you would for any essay. There will be a workshop and online instructions in how to create and record a pecha kucha presentation in the second half of the course.
You are to present your response to one of the questions in Pecha Kucha format. Pecha Kucha requires 20 PowerPoint slides each automatically set to advance on 20 seconds. The resulting presentation is exactly six minutes and forty seconds long. You are to record your presentation and save it as a video and upload it to Wattle. You are able to re-record your presentation as often as you like until you get a version you are happy with. You are also to submit a version of your presentation where your speaker’s notes are saved against each slide. The word count is determined by how quickly you speak, but as you should speak slowly you should aim for about forty words a slide and hence a total word count of 800 words. The 10% penalty limit will apply, but largely to stop you trying to speak too quickly. Your bibliography is not included in your word count, and in-text referencing can be informal. Pecha Kucha are intended to be largely visual, some insist on no words at all. You are allowed headings and some dot points, if you wish, but you should work on making your presentation visually attractive. You will have opportunities to rehearse this in class. Each topic is covered in lecture and tutorial but will require extensive additional independent research, including in most instances you finding at least one case example to illustrate your position with.
Due date: 5pm Tuesday June 15th
Estimated return date: At the close of the course.
“Word” limit: 6 minutes and 40 seconds for video; 800 words for script
Rubric: Please refer to course outline on Wattle
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Human Ecology, Systems Thinking, Food Systems, Education for Sustainability
Dr Robert Dyball
Dr Robert Dyball