Natural Disturbances and Society
CxC Coordinator Becky Carmichael College of Science
Natural disturbances shape our world, causing disruption to our lives, while simultaneously benefiting ecosystem composition and structure. Anthropogenic disturbances produce beneficial outcomes for society, but may cause loss of biodiversity, altered disturbance regimes, and increased vulnerability to subsequent stress. Nature and humans are constantly influencing each other and recognizing this connection helps us identify our susceptibility and prepare for future events. Understanding the science of natural disturbances and how human activities influence outcomes will allow us to protect disturbance dependent ecosystems, prepare for future disturbance events, and restore areas in the post-disaster environment.
This course will introduce disturbance ecology and explore the effects of natural and anthropogenic disturbances on ecosystems using past and recent disasters, such as Hurricane Andrew, Super Storm Sandy, and the Gulf Oil Spill. We will discuss the influence these events have on ecological and societal aspects and how past practices have shaped current responses. The course will also emphasize science literacy across disciplines and is communication-intensive, focusing on spoken and technological communication.