NS 381 – Tropical Ecosystems and Culture 2010

Thursday 10:15 am – 11:45 am Common View Room

Instructor:        Farley Anne Brown

                Phone: 586-7711 ext. 156         Email: fbrown@sterlingcollege.edu


Course Description:

This course is an opportunity to better understand other cultures and ecosystems.  Through readings, discussions and research we will ask and try to answer many questions.  How do tropical ecosystems differ from temperate systems?  What are the commonalities between the two?  What is the relationship between the people and the land in the tropics?  How do local political and social systems address human and environmental issues?  How do “we” perceive and relate to foreign cultures?


Course Objectives:

Course Format:

This course is designed as a seminar. To paraphrase Webster’s Dictionary, a seminar is an advance course featuring informality and discussion.  This is an opportunity to exchange ideas through weekly discussions of our readings and research.  


Active participation in class discussions of readings, films and research.

50 %


25 %

Final “Exam”


Required Text:    



Students bring a variety of learning styles to class.  We will be using a variety of oral, written and technical skills.  If you have a learning problem or documented disability, please check in with Leland Peterson, Sterling College’s Learning Support Coordinator.  Leland can help you determine what accommodations would be helpful for you in this course.  I can meet with you and Leland, or you can simply let me know what you and he decide.

NS 381 Course Schedule



September 30  

Course Introduction

Introduction to Tropical Ecosystem

October 7

Reading Discussion: Tropical Nature (intro, chaps 1 – 3)

A Temperate View of Tropical Life – Natural Communities of the Tropics

October 14

Reading Discussion: Tropical Nature (chaps 4 – 8)

Natural Communities of the Tropics

Movie: Amazon – Land of the Flooded Forest

October 21                  

Reading Discussions:  Tropical Nature ( chaps 9 – 12)

Other readings TBA

Tropical Cultures : Rise and Fall of the Maya

October 28

Reading Discussions:  Tropical Nature ( chaps 13 – 17)

Other readings TBA

Tropical Communities: Ecotourism – Sustainable Communities

November 4

Reading Discussions:  Barcott or Rabinowitz

Other readings TBA

Ecological Tragedies and Environmental Injustice

November 11

Reading Discussions:  Barcott or Rabinowitz

Other readings TBA

Marine Life: Coral Ecosystems – Charlotte Rosendahl

November 18

Reading Discussions:  Barcott or Rabinowitz

Other readings TBA

Protecting Tropical Communities – Protected Areas Systems

December 2

Reading Discussions:  Barcott or Rabinowitz

Other readings TBA

December 9

Future of the Tropics and Dinner