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The suite of courses constituting the ARS are designed to explore, singly and in integration, the complexities of preserving, maintaining, creating and managing a sustainable landscape where human and natural communities are in competition. The ARS features five courses, one each dedicated to ecology, ethics, sustainability, immersion in Adirondack issues, and a professional writiing seminar, a sixth, synthetic course requiring students to draw on their experience to create a viable management plan based on the New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation’s Unit Management Plan process. Students will spend at least 50 percent of instructional time in the field or in non-classroom experiences.

Advising Note

For students interested in registering for the ARS, you will need to review and discuss with your program advisor the detailed course descriptions listed below, in order to determine how each of these courses align with your individual program of study. Please be in touch at your earliest convenience with Paul B. Hai for help and additional information about courses, learning outcomes and assessments in order to help facilitate aligning the ARS courses with your departmental and academic program course requirements.

Course Descriptions & Introductory Videos

Diverse Perspectives on a Common Landscape: Experiencing the Adirondacks Park
3 credits

Three-four hours of field trips per week of Adirondack immersion including introduction to diverse stakeholders and perspectives through NGO, agency, and community meetings; interaction with an array of regional experts through special panel discussions, and field trips to and private tours of historic and cultural sites and institutions.

Environmental Ethics and Culture: Perspectives on the Adirondack Park

3 credits

Introduction to the ethics of land-use conflicts in the Adirondacks, N.Y. Linking the philosophical history of ethics with contemporary principles of environmental ethics and advocacy. Topics include agency, ethics, value theory, morality and responsibility in the context of ongoing regional debates.

Research Methods: Understanding the Adirondack Ecosystem
3 credits

Two hours of lecture/discussion and one three hour field trip/ laboratory per week. An introduction to biodiversity, forest and wildlife management, invasive species, climate science and the role of humans in the context of the Adirondack Park. Biotic and abiotic drivers of the Adirondack ecosystem, field data collection methods and policy and sustainability are considered. Explores the role of science in natural resource decision-making and the uses and limitations of ecological data and planning tools.

Sustainable Development: An Adirondack Park Case Study

3 credits

A place based study of the concepts of sustainable development and their application. Students will learn of the role of historical precedence and current context in approaching planning and policy for a sustainable future. The course will combine lecture, discussion, student led seminars and writing that illustrates both skills in analysis and synthesis. Class will meet once a week for three hours for 14 weeks at the ESF Newcomb campus, and may require occasional field trips.

Read "Ross Whaley: a love for all things Adirondack" in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.

Using Past Experience to Inform Future Management: Synthesizing the Adirondack Park
3 credits

Three hours of lecture/seminar/discussion per week. “Capstone” synthesis of experiences, content and insights gained during the “Sustaining the Adirondack Park” residential semester through research and production of an independent position paper and collaborative comprehensive management plan for the state’s recent purchase of 69,000 acres in the heart of the Adirondack Park, near Newcomb, N.Y. Management plan findings and conclusions presented at two public forums.

Seminar, Selected Topics – Professional Writing and Communications (EST 497)

1 credit

This seminar, taught in Newcomb over two weekends and throughout the remainder of the semester via electronic communications, will provide students with techniques, tools and experience in professional writing and will serve to assist students in the preparation of Independent Project and other semester materials and assignments.


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