This course is led by UBC faculty member Lee Groat.
As argued in ISCI 360, to understand sustainability, we also need to understand unsustainability. We have deliberately adopted systems thinking as the approach for ISCI 361, using the logic that any region of the world needs to be understood as an integrated system before we can understand what will happen when that system is perturbed. Systems thinking as an approach to problem-solving argues that the component parts of a system can best be understood in the context of relationships with each other and with other systems, rather than in isolation. A scientific approach to examining the world that embraces systems thinking therefore, demands that we consider landscapes, regions or whole continents as systems. In these systems, elements such as land, air, water, human societies, plants, and animals, interact in ways that influence the likelihood that the system will survive or perish.
In 2019W term 2 ISCI 361 will visit and examine the Big Island, Hawaii as a case study region.
We will spend reading week in Hawaii (Feb 15-22, 2020), visiting a number of academic centres, national parks, and sites of interest. We will consider input from multiple scientific (and some social science) disciplines to answer a range of questions about the Hawaiian system and its sustainability. How does the underlying geology of the Big Island affect its water systems and agriculture? What advantage do different sources of energy offer this small island? To what degree are these energy systems - sustainable? How do the climate and geology of the Big Island affect its ecosystems and agriculture? What special advantages and challenges are unique to this area of the earth system?
Students will be expected to complete required readings before reading week. There will be a quiz based on the readings the first morning in Hawaii, and a quiz based on the field part of the course on the last morning. The final project is a logbook due approximately one month after the field part of the course. In the logbook, which is a collection of 10 short essays, students will pursue selected Hawaiian sustainability topics of their own choice.