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Courses That Change Your Life: Conservation and Development in the Indian Tropics (BIOL 367)

Posted by lindsaybarden | Oct 26, 2016

It is easy to think we understand something well, like environmental conservation, when we view it from the perspective of our own culture. But when we make the effort to see the same kinds of problems in the eyes of a culture other than our own, we may discover that we did not understand as much as we thought. And that can be the beginning of real learning. Au Sable's unique course, Conservation and Development in the Indian Tropics, provides students with the opportunity to not only see some of the world's most magnificent creatures in their native surroundings, but to view the problems of their conservation and preservation through the eyes of the culture of south India, one of the world's most densely populated areas within one of the largest nations on Earth. In addition to its vast human population, India also offers some of the most beautiful and diverse environments in the world.

Dieter Bouma, recipient of not one, but two Master's degrees, instructs this course alongside Dr. A. Relton of Bishop Heber College in India. Dieter holds a Master of Science from the University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources and Environment as well as a Master of Public Policy from U of M's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. His graduate research focused on community-based conservation in Nepal, home of the Himalayas and a border country with India. Through an international forestry research program and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), he researched community-based conservation, specifically how rural communities in Nepal sustainably manage their forests. The work required interdisciplinary study of forest ecology, social organization, cultural practices, and policy prescriptions. Bouma plans to bring this interdisciplinary lens to study the Indian subtropics.

Executive Director, Fred Van Dyke noted regarding Dieter's appointment, "Dieter brings interdisciplinary education and experience to a course that must effectively integrate the science of conservation biology, the legal and political framework of environmental policy, and the social context of Indian culture to successfully accomplish its learning goals. It's hard to imagine a person better crafted by education and life experience than Dieter to accomplish such a challenging assignment, and even thrive in doing it, but Dieter is that person. Having actually lived, worked and studied in this part of the world, he can show students the significance and subtleties of these interactions in ways they might otherwise miss."

Conservation and Development in the Indian Tropics will be offered in 2018. Students taking this course will be introduced to the conservation, historical and ongoing development, and comparative analysis of coastal ecosystems of the Wester Ghats while studying at Bishop Heber College in Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu, South India.

Broaden your understanding of conservation while studying and experiencing the culture and ecology of India, with Conservation and Development in the Indian Tropics. Begin your application, here.