22 May to 16 June 2023; Asynchronous
Instructor: Brian Beckage (Brian.Beckage@uvm.edu)
Office Hours (remote by appointment)
Global Change Ecology will provide an in-depth exploration of both the impacts of climate change on ecological systems
and the effects of ecosystems on climate. We will examine the causes of climate change, feedbacks between the
ecological, human, and climate systems, and the impacts of climate on ecological systems. We will adopt a systems
perspective that emphasizes feedbacks between system components to better understand nonlinearities and threshold
responses that characterize global change ecology.
Course Requisites or Co-requisites
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Graduate Level standing
- Understanding the natural and human drivers of climate change.
- Understanding the ecological effects of climate change on ecological systems.
- Understanding the feedbacks between the ecological, human and climate systems.
Class Structure. Students will achieve course objectives through readings, other media, and online
discussions. The class will be divided up into modules, with the student completing each module before moving on to
the next module. There are a total of 8 modules with the student completing 2 modules per week for each of the 4 weeks
of the course.
- Readings. Students will complete assigned readings from course texts and other assigned sources.
- Media. Students will watch a variety of videos and other media that reinforce and supplement the assigned
readings. These will include full length documentaries, shorter video presentations, and podcasts. The online
discussions and learning assessments will integrate material from all media.
- Online discussions. Students will participate in online discussions that examine and analyze
the concepts presented in the readings and assigned media for each course module.
- Learning Assessments. Quizzes will assess student understanding of assigned readings and videos
for each course module, while a cumulative final exam will assess student understanding of content across
Student grades will be based on the following components:
- Analysis and discussion (on Yellowdig) of assigned materials: 40% of course grade.
- Learning assessments on assigned materials: 25% of course grade.
- Graduate Research paper: 10% of course grade.
- Final exam: 25% of course grade.
- Grading Scale:
Grades less than 70 are considered failing for grad courses.
Students will also be assigned readings from the following set of books (below) as well as from the primary literature.
These books will be required for this class and are available as ebooks from the publisher or other online sources
(e.g., Amazon, etc.) or in the university bookstore.
- Thomas E. Lovejoy (Editor) & Lee Hannah (Editor). 2019. Biodiversity and Climate Change: Transforming the Biosphere.
- Emanuel, K., 2018. What we know about climate change. MIT Press. ISBN:
We will watch a variety of documentaries, video lectures, and podcasts. I try to find free sources of these media,
but you may have to rent, purchase, or find them through a subscription service (e.g., Amazon Prime, Netflix,
Apple TV, etc.). These media include the following:
Inconvenient Truth (97 mins)
Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash (83 mins)
Seaspiriacy (89 mins)
Planet of the Humans (100 mins)
- Watch these introductory videos:
- In Introductory
Video 1 (7 mins), you'll learn a little about me and my approach to
teaching this course, receive an orientation to the course objectives, and learn about the grading schema.
- In Introductory Video 2 (8 mins),
you'll learn about our course readings and videos, how to get started, and an overview of the Module
structure of our course.
- Review the course objectives and course texts above.
- Log onto Blackboard class page and click on the Yellowdig link on the left sidebar and make a post
introducing yourself. Here is a short youtube video (3 mins)
describing how to use Yellowdig and here is a
video (4 mins) specific to using Yellowdig in our class.
- Go to the course Schedule.
- Start Module 1 by watching the introductory video, then complete the assigned tasks for that module, moving
from left to right, ending with a quiz.
- Complete 2 modules per week. After completing module 8 at the end of week 4, take the final exam and
turn in your research paper.