Both courses were taught at Utah State University and are graduate level courses. They were taught between 2015 and 2018.
Modelling Human-Environment Systems
This course is an introduction to modelling human-environment systems (HES). The course will focus on understanding the importance of complexity, system thinking, interdependencies and feedbacks in HES. To disentangle such complexities and minimize the problem of unintended consequences of decision making, this course will familiarize students with specific topics that will be covered during this course divided into general (readings will refer mainly to these topics) technical, (exercises will refer mainly to these topics) and optional (depending on interest and ability of the class and individual/group final project).
- General concepts: Complex Adaptive Systems, Modelling approaches and Frameworks to model human-environment systems (Social-Ecological Systems).
- Technical skills: How to model human-environment systems. Simple models that include feedbacks, connectivity and diversity. Assessing models and their applicability to the real world.
- Optional skills (to be discussed with the instructor): Integrating Networks and GIS, Integrating GIS and Computational Modelling. Integrating Networks and Computational Modelling.
To facilitate learning, the course is divided into three main blocks:
- The first block of the course will introduce different modelling approaches, complex systems and frameworks that are useful to model social-ecological systems.
- The second block of the course will focus on computational models and feedbacks between humans and the environment. During this part of the course we will explore and learn how to model three main system properties: diversity, connectivity and feedbacks. We will also learn how to assess a model limitations and strengths and its applicability to the real world.
- The final block of the course will be centered on group and individual final projects. We will work in class on defining hypothesis, variables of interest and rules relating to such variables. In this third part of the course we will also focus on specific optional skills needed to finalize successfully your final project.
- Course Objectives
- To provide students with an understanding of the importance of feedbacks and interdependencies when dealing with human-environment systems
- To provide students with the technical ability to assess model validity and applicability to the real world.
- To provide students the ability to design models dealing with specific aspects of human-environment systems.
Research approaches in Environment and Society
- Course Objectives
- To provide students with an understanding of the importance different research approaches in human-environment systems
- To provide students with an understanding of different research methods for human-environment systems
To facilitate student interaction and learning the class format comprises weekly lectures in which specific approaches and methods are introduced, and weekly discussions in which students, divided into two “teams” will have to debate the pros and cons of each approach and method.