Tropical Ecology is the study of the biotic and abiotic interactions that shape the
origin, maintenance, and consequences of species diversity in tropical ecosystems.
Ecopsychology argues that the deep and enduring questions – who we are, how we grow,
why we suffer, how we heal – are inseparable from our relationships with the physical
world, and similarly, that the overriding environmental questions – the sources of,
consequences of, and solutions to environmental destruction – are deeply rooted in
the psyche, our images of self and nature, and our behaviors. Lectures on tropical
ecology and ecopsychology will be interspersed with discussion, and students will
be asked to maintain a journal with one entry due for each week (from week 1 through
week 10), reflecting on their understanding of the material assigned for that week.
The aim of the course is thus for each student to come to a deeper understanding of
the course themes of biodiversity, habitat and biome characteristics, human-environment
interactions, and ecological concepts such as species interactions through reading
and reflection of authors such as Jane Goodall, Wade Davis, Ralph Metzner, Jacob von
Uexküll, and Christopher Uhl. Formative assessments by means of quizzes and exams
allow for students to evaluate their knowledge of biological material paired with
the journals serving as a weekly ritual in which students demonstrate their own way
of incorporating course themes and readings into their daily lives. In this way, the
two disciplinary portions of the course are designed to become mutually implicative
and complementary in the students’ experience. This is in keeping with the Cowan’s
original vision of the Core as interdisciplinary and mutually beneficial among the
disciplines offered at UD. This course can satisfy the core life science requirement.
Prerequisites: BIO 1311 and 1312 OR BIO 2360 OR instructor approval.
A recent version of the syllabus can be found here for the lecture and here for the lab. Please note: The lab requires travel. We have visited many different
tropical habitats and location will vary depending on circumstances. Past labs were:
Spring 2018 - Costa Rica, Interterm 2019 - Belize, Spring 2021 - Big Bend National
Park, Texas. Currently, we are planning to return to Costa Rica the next time this
course is offered, which is slated for Spring 2023.
"Nature is our classroom." Meet the professors: Dr. Churchill (Professor, Psychology)
& Dr. Soper (Assistant Professor, Biology)
Costa Rica - March 2018
Belize January 2019
Big Bend National Park, January 2021