The Duke University Global Education Office for Undergraduates in cooperation with the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke and the National University of Singapore will offer a 6-week, two course summer program focusing on conservation and environmental themes.
Based at the National University of Singapore (NUS), the program will entail field trips to locations in Singapore and nearby Malaysia and Cambodia, visiting environment and conservation areas and organizations.
The program will consist of two courses: Urban Tropical Ecology (focused in Singapore) taught by Dr. Rittschof; and Environmental Conservation in Southeast Asia taught by Dr. Hastings.
Since the industrial revolution, the planet has undergone significant anthropogenically-driven environmental changes, including climate change, deforestation, coral reef decline, habitat loss, and a wave of species extinctions. These changes have been driven primarily by population growth, economic development, and rising levels of consumption. Since the 1950s, the world’s population has grown from 2.55 billion to 7 billion, economic output has increased fivefold (www.wri.org), and the world’s urban population has gone from 29% to ~50% (www.un.org)29% to ~50% (www.un.org). Meanwhile, the carbon concentrations in the atmosphere have risen to 391 parts per million (http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/), 90% of the big fish in the oceans have disappeared, and we are currently in Earth’s 6th mass extinction, this time drive by humans. Meanwhile, humans have responded to this decline by designing and implementing environmental conservation interventions at the international, regional, national, and local scales.
Southeast Asia is perhaps one of the best places in the world to see and understand these phenomena in action. This region of Asia has witnessed phenomenal urbanization, economic growth, and population increases over the last decades. These changes have put the incredible terrestrial, aquatic, and marine biodiversity of the region at risk, along with the local/indigenous people and cultures which depend upon these resources.
Many public, private, and non-governmental entities in the region now work to protect the remaining biodiversity and better balance development and conservation. It is within this biological and social context that this experiential field oriented seminar will be conducted. We will tour both Singapore and Malaysia, seeing and hearing about environmental decline and conservation solutions at multiple scales.