Online Courses Available to F&ES Alumni

FES Online Education
Offering these online courses to our own alumni is the next logical step in making these valuable opportunities available to a wider audience.
— Peter Crane
This semester the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) will, for the first time, make online courses available to alumni of the School.
 
Beginning this week, alumni are invited to register for either of two six-week courses — F&ES 783 Tropical Forest Restoration in Human-Dominated Landscapes or F&ES 738 Himalayan Diversities: Environment, Livelihoods, and Culture — which will begin on March 9.
 
In addition to weekly lectures featuring F&ES faculty and guest experts, both courses will offer regular online meetings during which participants can communicate directly with instructors.

Courses for F&ES Alumni

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“Like many others at Yale, we are very interested in exploring the opportunities brought by the world of online education,” said F&ES Dean Peter Crane. “We already offer several courses with integrated technology to students in F&ES. Offering these online courses to our own alumni is the next logical step in making these valuable opportunities available to a wider audience.

“These courses seem particularly appropriate since so many of our graduates are actively engaged in both these areas.”
 
The “Tropical Restoration” course is taught by F&ES Professor Mark Ashton ’85 M.F. ’90 Ph.D. and two staff members at Yale’s Environmental Leadership and Training Initiative (ELTI), Eva Garen ’97 M.E.M. ’05 Ph.D., and Gillian Bloomfield ’10 M.F.S., ELTI’s Director and Online Training Program Coordinator, respectively.
 
The “Himalayan Diversities” course is taught by Alark Saxena ’07 M.E.M., ’15 Ph.D., an F&ES lecturer and director of the Yale Himalaya Initiative; Mark Turin, associate professor of anthropology at the University of British Columbia and former director of the Yale Himalaya Initiative; and Kamaljit Bawa, a professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
 
More on the courses:
 

F&ES 783 Tropical Forest Restoration in Human-Dominated Landscapes 

The “Tropical Restoration” course builds on the international capacity-building work conducted by the F&ES-based Environmental Leadership and Training Initiative (ELTI), which provides field-based and online training opportunities to a range of stakeholders in the world’s tropical regions.
 
Since 2013, the School has offered the same online course for environmental professionals, policy-makers, and landholders across Latin America and Asia. So far, the online course has been offered in three languages, reaching a wide range of practitioners in 24 countries. Previous versions of the online course have attracted a range of professionals, from city government workers to those working for NGOs, and from recent university graduates to people who have been working in the environmental sector for years.
 
The instructors explain that there is no single “cookbook” approach to restoring forests and the critical ecosystem services they provide. Instead, the course provides a process for analyzing the ecological conditions, disturbance history, sociopolitical and cultural aspects, and monitoring strategies that are appropriate for different locations.
I believe this is an incredible opportunity for alumni to remain engaged with education and especially with ongoing cutting edge research and demonstration programs.
— Mark Ashton
“Rather than teaching, ‘This is how you do forest restoration or reforestation,’” said Bloomfield. “We’re teaching people about all the different factors they need to consider and the process they might use to narrow down the different options for how to do it.”
 
The course will introduce basic principles of forest ecology, natural and anthropogenic disturbances, sociopolitical and cultural contexts, and the potential for the regeneration of tree and forest cover and ecosystem services on a site. It will also provide a process to evaluate and compare an array of tropical forest restoration methodologies and how the site conditions influence the decision-making about which strategies to utilize.
 
The online case studies that include videos and slide presentations are developed in collaboration with ELTI partners in the field.  The online lectures comprise both the instructors and invited speakers who are world renowned for their work in this field.  All of this material is supplemented by readings on work done by the instructors, ELTI partner organizations, and affiliated research in the social and natural sciences.
 
“I believe this is an incredible opportunity for alumni to remain engaged with education and especially with ongoing cutting edge research and demonstration programs — in this case around tropical forest restoration and land transitions,” said Ashton, one of the lead instructors of the course.

Read more about the structure and content of this course.

 

F&ES 738 Himalayan Diversities: Environment, Livelihoods, and Culture

The “Himalayan Diversities” course will explore the ecological, economic, and social complexities of the critically important Himalayan region, and the challenges of achieving a more sustainable future in the region.
 
Often called the planet’s “third pole” because of the enormous volume of glacial ice that is so critical to its vast network of interconnected eco-regions and the people who live in them, the Himalayan region is also acutely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
 
The interdisciplinary course will explore the region’s diversity and interconnectedness through three lenses: the environment, livelihood, and culture.
 
In addition to connecting alumni with F&ES faculty, the online platform will provide an opportunity to create a unique network of informed practitioners exploring similar issues through different disciplines, says Alark Saxena, the lead lecturer.
In this course, participants will learn about the interconnectedness of the Himalayan region by reaching across the boundary of their own disciplines.
— Alark Saxena
“In this course, participants will learn about the interconnectedness of the Himalayan region by reaching across the boundary of their own disciplines,” he said. “We hope we can talk about how Himalayas' different landscapes and cultural institutions really are connected, and at the same time create a community of practioners and scholars who might not otherwise find each other.
 
“People will learn from the experiences that others bring to the table.”
 
There is also no other course like it, says Turin. And because so many F&ES alumni are “life-long learners” — and hold important decision-making positions in the Himalayan region — it made particular sense to make it available to them.
 
“‘Himalayan Diversities’ is a truly trans-regional and multidisciplinary course,” he said. “It addresses crosscutting issues that are urgent, timely and impactful for communities. The course brings cutting edge research and researchers together to address issues rather than disciplines, so Himalayan Diversities is a great way for our alums to stay current with research, scholars and networks.”
 
Added Bawa, “In many ways the course is about the rapid change that is underway in perhaps the most important mountain system in the world, and how to build resilience and capacities of human societies and institutions to meet the challenges arising out of this change.” 
 
“The course is unusual in taking an integrated approach to the problems faced by the Himalaya and its people. The lectures and the readings of the course have been prepared in consultation with the top experts in the field. The lecture material and online discussion will provide a great opportunity to connect to the experts who have engaged in the creation of this course.”

Read more about the structure and content of the course.
– Kevin Dennehy    kevin.dennehy@yale.edu    203 436-4842
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PUBLISHED: February 13, 2015
 

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