This course will seek to help students develop a deep personal connection with the natural world immediately around them by embracing both scientific ways of studying it along with more artistic ones, rooted in observational practices. We will walk through the history of this country’s public lands system, exploring the creation of their protections as well as the problems we have encountered trying to preserve them. Students will learn how to implement mathematical models to represent and estimate characteristics of wildlife populations, pulling from their algebra skills as well as their knowledge of basic biology. After laying a foundation of the science of wildlife ecology, we will examine several texts that will help students understand what our relationship with the natural world has been historically and where that relationship is headed. Interspersed throughout readings and discussions, we will also guide students through structured ways of observing wildlife, like how to spot key proportions indicative of a particular species or slowing down to notice textural detail using blind-contour drawing strategies. These methods will prove useful observing and understanding wildlife in situ.
By the end of the course, students will identify a subject within Arizona’s vast natural systems that they would like to illuminate for the rest of our community here at PCDS. They may use scientific analysis, public outreach, visual art, literary writing or some other way to represent their specific topic and illustrate something they believe deserves our attention. This blend of the sciences, arts, and humanities will allow students to see the many ways that we can relate to and interact with our natural world, learning to pay closer attention to it. We will spend time outdoors around our campus and take field trips to see firsthand where our incredible wildlife resides.