Department of Urban & Regional Planning | Illinois

Department of Urban & Regional Planning

UP 205: Ecology and Its Applications - Spring 2011


Professor Daniel Schneider
M220 Buell Hall, 244-7681,
Office hours: Monday, Wednesday 2-3 or by appointment

Description---Ecology is the scientific study of the interactions of organisms with each other and their environment, or ecosystem. Humans play a critical role in these interactions. Manipulation of these interactions for agriculture, forestry, energy production, or settlement is at the basis of human society. Thus, we need to have an understanding of these ecological interactions in order to plan development, land use, recreation, or conservation in a way which will protect the functioning of ecosystems. This course provides an introduction to the scientific study of ecosystems, focusing on how natural ecological systems operate, how human activities affect these systems, and how constraints on these systems affect society.

There are two main sections to the course. Lectures will cover fundamental ecological concepts and the biological, chemical, and physical processes important in ecological systems. We will cover ecological systems at several scales of organization: the individual, population, community, ecosystem, and landscape. Each topic will be illustrated with a case study illustrating the applications of ecological knowledge to planning, environmental conservation, management, or restoration. We will also cover the ecology of specific habitats, aquatic and terrestrial, and will examine the human impact on these habitats.

Discussions will allow you to analyze case studies of planning problems and apply the ecological concepts you have learned in lecture to the understanding of and perhaps solution to these problems. Case studies include problems of growth management, urban landscape, public health, equity planning, wildlands management, and sustainable development. Readings for discussion section include two types of material. We will read and analyze a newspaper or magazine article that raises planning problems. We will then examine a scientific article that covers ecological background necessary for understanding the planning problem. Discussion sections are also timed to coincide with lectures on the appropriate ecological topics. Students will also divide into groups, and each group will present its analysis of one planning problem over the course of the semester. Reading must be done in advance of Discussion section.

The analytical skills you develop in discussion section will be applied to a paper assignment. You will take a topic involving ecological issues from a newspaper. You will then identify the important ecological issues raised, and will research those ecological issues in the scientific literature and write a 5-7 page paper summarizing the planning problem and application of scientific information. The paper is due in Discussion section the week of April 25. We will discuss the paper assignment in detail in Discussion.

Readings---There is an optional textbook and a required set of xeroxed readings for the course. The text is Colin R. Townsend, John L. Harper and Michael Begon Essentials of Ecology 3rd ed. (Blackwell Science, 2008), and is available from online booksellers or on reserve in the Undergraduate Library. The readings are required for the discussion section, and are available at Notes-n-Quotes, 501 E. John Street. Readings in the textbook are coordinated with the lectures to help you understand the material, but material from the textbook alone will not appear on the exams. Material from the discussion section readings may appear on the exams.

Requirements---There will be five major requirements; two exams, a paper, the group project, and participation in the discussion section. Participation will be based on attendance and performance on several unannounced quizzes. Grades will be based on a scale of A+>98>A>92>A->90>B+>88>B>82>B->80>C>70>D>60>F. Participation in the discussions, including quizzes, will count for 20% of the grade, group projects for 10%, the1st exam for 20%, the Paper for 25%, and the 2nd Exam for 25%. You must complete all requirements of thecourse to receive a passing grade.

Academic Honesty---You are strongly encouraged to discuss class assignments with others, but your work in papers and exams must be your own. Do not quote directly or paraphrase from published works (including the world wide web) without a proper citation. Footnote ideas and information that are not common knowledge. When in doubt about what academic integrity requires, ASK! Failure to abide by the principles of academic honesty will result in a failing grade for the course.

Rights and Responsibilities in DURP Learning Environments--The DURP learning environment includes dialogue, collaborative work, and service-learning. By enrolling in a course in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, students agree to be responsible for maintaining a respectful environment in their academic and professional training. The expectations outlined in this code apply to all people participating in DURP activities, including classes, projects, and extracurricular programs.

Rights in the DURP learning environment. All participants in DURP activities have the right to feel comfortable sharing in the conversation, to be free of intimidation or ridicule, and to face no discrimination on the basis of their views. Through classroom discussions, opinions are questioned and challenged and may be strengthened or revised. In group project work, students have the right to be included, to contribute, and to have their voices heard by team members. Group projects prepare students for working with a wide variety of colleagues and allow for the opportunity to learn from classmates.

Responsibilities in the DURP learning environment. Students, faculty, and staff are responsible for maintaining an inclusive, respectful environment and all are expected to respect the opinions and backgrounds of others. In order to have successful dialogue, basic rules of courtesy should be followed.

Students and faculty are also responsible for dialogue that meets the standards of academic and professional planning settings, where opinions are valid when they are supported with appropriate evidence and logical arguments. Students and faculty may speak from personal experience, but should not make arguments based on uninformed stereotypes, misrepresented information, or unsupported assertions.

In group work, participants are responsible for providing the opportunity for each group member to contribute. Ideas and contributions should be valued and considered equally as long as they meet the basis of accepted academic and professional standards for planning work.

Download PDF of syllabus

Return to Course Web Page -- »»