April 13, 2011

Palmer, Matthew Silver_nugget and Spector, Sacha
[W3087] Conservation Biology

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

STAY AWAY FROM THIS CLASS. It is the biggest waste of time. Meets once a week for 2 hours, mandatory 1 hour discussion section each week, about 3 mandatory field trips, two of which are full day excursions. We learned absolutely nothing of substance.

The entire course can be summarized like this:
The philosophical basis of conservation is questionable. We don't have much data, so our models suck and our understanding of the natural system is very limited. We should do lots of research and then integrate the results with social, political, economic, cultural, and spiritual considerations to engage stakeholders and conserve the system.

Assignment: There's a reservoir in Central Park. Let's restore it! Go!
(what are we restoring? why? how much money? what time frame? what species live there? these are apparently irrelevant questions and we are not given the answers)

That's actually it. No science. None. At all. Just a lot of focus on integrating it into some kind of vague socio-politico-economic framework. This general lack substance be a lot less frustrating if the class wasn't SO MUCH WORK. It's not hard, it's just time consuming. Very, very time consuming. The sad part is, the professors are both cool and extremely knowledgeable. Matt is a plant guy, and Sacha focuses on insects; they both know a lot about generally under-studied topics in environmental bio, yet do not impart any kind of scientific knowledge to their students. They and the TAs are both really nice as well, yet the class still sucks. So frustrating.

Workload:

Weekly "exercises" that take hours and teach you nothing except the art of bullshit (which, let's be honest, you've probably already mastered!). 2 journal articles weekly (discussed in section), generally literature reviews, opinion pieces, or modeling studies that say little. No midterm, take home final (I haven't taken it yet). There's an optional paper you can write to decrease the weight of the exercises and final exam, but if you work hard on the exercises it probably isn't necessary.

June 21, 2004

(multiple lecturers),
[W3087] Conservation Biology

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Professors: Sacha Spector, Rosemarie Gnam, Ana Luz Porzecanski

The whole world should have to take this class, not because the professors were especially godlike in prowess or physique, but because the loss of biological diversity is one of greatest environmental catastrophes happening today, yet its one that (with the proper motivation) we could seriously and realistically confront in all sectors. That said, you get a taste of the issues in conservation biology; endangered species, the economics of environmental issues, in situ and ex situ conservation, classification of species, and governance of wildlife. For E3B majors, the class shouldn't be too hard. For nonscience majors taking the class to fill a science requirement, this class will definitely give you basic literacy of the most important environmental issue facing us today - the loss of biological diversity.

Workload:

The team-teaching approach here keeps things pretty interesting, though some of the topics covered might better be learned in the field, hands on. The same goes for weekly assignments - some of them were just weak simulations of actual conservation bio issues that happen in the field. The instructors stress on being able to read scientific articles and talk about them is both rewarding and empowering. The team also is more than open to discuss things in class and respect student's thoughts. There is no midterm, and the final was a cake walk, as they gave it out in advance (I recommend splitting your studying up among some friends - it wont take more than a couple of hours.)

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB W3087: Conservation Biology Sacha Spector 2012 Spring M / 4:10- 6:00 PM 1
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB W3087: Conservation Biology Matthew Palmer, Sacha Spector 2011 Spring M / 4:10- 6:00 PM 1
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB W3087: Conservation Biology Matthew Palmer, Sacha Spector 2010 Spring M / 4:10- 6:00 PM 1
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB W3087: Conservation Biology Matthew Palmer, Sacha Spector 2009 Spring M / 4:10- 6:00 PM 1
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB W3087: Conservation Biology Matthew Palmer, Sacha Spector 2007 Spring M / 4:10- 6:00 PM 1
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB W3087: Conservation Biology Sacha Spector, Gareth Russell 2005 Spring M / 4:10- 6:00 PM 1
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB W3087: Conservation Biology Sacha Spector, Ana Porzecanski, Rosemarie Gnam 2004 Spring M / 4:10- 6:00 PM 1
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB W3087: Conservation Biology Sacha Spector, Rosemarie Gnam, Rodrigo Medellin 2003 Spring M / 4:10- 6:00 PM 1
EEEB / ENVB EEEB ENVB W3087: Conservation Biology Eleanor Sterling, James Gibbs 2001 Fall M / 4:10- 6:00 PM 1