There are many courses taught at Ithaca College that utilize our natural areas as a classroom and study these ecosystems.
Some courses are highlighted below:
Environmental Sentinels (ENVS 120)
Co-taught by biology professor Jason Hamilton, Geography Professor Jake Brenner, and Tim Drake and Jed Jordan of Primitive Pursuits - a local environmental and nature education organization in Ithaca, NY.
This is a field-based course that focuses on natural history, biodiversity, and development of the ability to perceive subtle changes in the environment. Primitive technology skills (friction fires, natural rope, medicinal plants, tracking, etc.) and field identification will be emphasized. Blending these skills and the approaches of deep wilderness awareness, students develop an ability to read land-use history and an appreciation for modern ecological science and natural resource management
For more about this course, see the video and article to the right.
Topics in Geography – Land Use and Landscape Change (ENVS 331)
This course takes a human-environment geographer’s perspective, posing the following questions: What roles are played by land in specific cultures in specific locales? What are the biophysical processes that shape landscapes? What are the social processes that determine land-use patterns? This course engages multiple dimensions of land-use change, including history, economics, policy, politics, ideology, ethics, culture, and science – all in pursuit of sustainability. Extensive field research is conducted on IC Natural Lands.
Non-Timber Forest Products
In today's world, there is a very high demand for timber products, whether for construction, fuel, or any other wood-based merchandise. Both the timber companies and more importantly, the forest are under a great deal of pressue from consumers. Fortunately, timber is not the only resource which the forest has to offer. This course offers students the opportunity to learn about such forest products while maintaining three research projects: Edible Mushroom Cultivation, South Hill Maple Syrup Co., and Beekeeping and Honey Harvesting.
Power of Plants: Role in Medicine and Agriculture (BIO 225)
Explores the important roles of plants in modern society and indigenous cultures, with specific focus on plants as sources of medicines and food. Other topics include plant classification; the mechanisms of bioactive plant compounds in humans; the evolution, domestication, and genetic modification of crop plants; plant conservation; and ownership of nature.
Worldwide, the restructuring of ecosystems by invasive species is one of the top three causes of biodiversity loss. This course explores the biological causes and consequences of invasive species. We will also consider the role of humans in spreading invasive species and the efforts in managing them. The course will focus on case studies, including invasive species threatening Ithaca’s own natural lands, to examine what is known, what is not known, and what we can do about these problem species.
Independent Research in Biology or Environmental Studies
For students who desire hands-on research in issues relating to sustainability and the environment. Research can involve participation in continuing projects or in new, student proposed projects. Students will work closely with a faculty member to guide their study.
Recreational Land Use Ethics (RLS 370)
This course is taught by Outdoor Adventure Leadership instructor Chris Pelchat, and offers an examination of the people and social forces that have influenced land use related to designated wilderness. Involving a focus on philosophical and historical basis for wilderness management, it emphasizes development and promotion of a personal recreational land-use ethic. The course includes an extended field experience, utilizing South Hill.
Outdoor Adventure Pursuits (RLS 151)
This course taught by Outdoor Adventure Leadership instructor Chris Pelchat, has students out on South Hill using outdoor skills taught in the classroom. The class involves an examination of the historical, psychological, social, and philosophical foundations of outdoor adventure pursuits. By learning these skills first hand in a forest setting, students are able to easily pick up these essential skills more easily. Students learn to construct lean-tos, put up and take down tents, navigate with compasses, and build man made shelters in emergencies.