MARI Activity Reports

MARI Announcements

2022 Service-Learning Stakeholder Meeting

Earth Day Presentation at NIH

The Director of MARI gave a presentation at the Earth Day Event of the National Institute of Health (NIH). Here is the abstract:

Modern Climate Change: A Symptom of a Cataclysmic Single-Species Energy Pulse

Assuming the perspective of an alien planetary ecologist looking at Earth, it becomes immediately clear that the sudden emergence of a single species with access to planetary energy resources stored over hundred of millions years in the surface layers of the planet has led to cataclysmic changes in the planetary physiology. The baseline for a "healthy" Earth maintaining a homeostasis shows exceptional stability during the Holocene, the last geological epoch that started about 11,700 years before present. Aided by this stable system, homo sapiens sapiens was able to rapidly evolve into a dominating global species reengineering many aspects of the planetary system and causing the syndrome of modern global change. In many aspects, homo sapiens sapiens appears to act and inflict systemic changes in the planetary system like a virus would in an organism. A diagnosis of the root cause for this syndrome points to the mainstream economic model that defines human wealth creation as the purpose of economy with little or no regard for the planetary state. The prognosis under current conditions points to a spectrum of possible futures of which many include a collapse of the currently dominating species. A therapy seems to require a new economic model that respects the de facto purpose of this supply system, which is to meet the needs of the present while safeguarding the Earth's life-support system, on which the welfare of all current and future human and non-human life on Earth depends. The transition from the current official purpose of economy to a new purpose closely aligned to the de facto purpose of the supply system that economy is would require actions on all spatial scales from local to global, and at all social, cultural, and governance levels.

Orientation Workshop

Stakeholder Meeting for the Service Learning 2021

The students in the Spring 2021 course “Sustainablility Leadership” carried out a case study on the regeneration of the Piney Run watershed at Kings Eyes, Baltimore County, MD. They presented their findings and recommendations to a stakeholder meeting on April 21, 2021.

The students in the 2020/2021 cohort of the “Sustainability and Conservation Leadership Program” are carrying out their internships in Summer 2021 at hosts institutions at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The National Park Service, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, as well as local NGOs (Lynnhaven River Now and the Paradise Creek Nature Park). The Orientation Workshop for these students took place on May 11, 2021. For more details see here ...

[2021/1/10] Service Learning in virtual mode: The IDS/BIOL/OEAS 467/BIOL/OEAS 567 Course in Spring 2021 will cary out a service learning project related to the regeneration of the Piney Run Watershed at Kings Eye in Baltimore County, MD. Due to travel restrictions in place all project work will have to be carried out without actual fieldwork in the watershed. The owner of Kings Eye is leading a regeneration project, and the service learnignproject is expected to give him valuable input for a long-term strategy.

[2020/1/15] Service Learning at The Nature Conservancy: The IDS/BIOL/OEAS 467/BIOL/OEAS 567 Course in Spring 2020 will cary out a service learning project for the The Nature Conservancy at Brownsville Preserve on the Eastern Shores in Virginia. The students will research the future of the Preserve and the Virginia Coast Reserve under climate change and sea level rise.

[2019/5/1] CURE Project "Research in Case Studies of Real-World Problems in Conservation Leadership": This CURE project will implement a web-based tool for the MARI Case Study Template guiding students in their research of real-world wicked problems through all steps. The resulting web-based tool will be used for the first time in the Summer 2019 class BIOL/IDS/OEAS 467 "Sustainable Leadership" for a case study of water management in Puerto Rico and the impacts of this on freshwater ecosystems. Read more ...

[2019/3/10] Impact Learning Community "Leaders for a Sustainable Future": The Fall 2019 466W class and the Spring 2020 467 class have been selected as an Impact Learning Community (ILC) under the title "Leaders for a Sustainable Future". More information is available on the ILC Communities page. Read more ...

[2019/2/21] New course on Modeling, Simulation and Visualization: The graduate course GRAD 658 on Participatory and Agent-Based Modeling, Simulation and Visualization will be taught the first time in the Fall term of 2019. It will be regularly taught in the Fall terms. Many societal challenges are "wicked problems," i.e., social or cultural problems that are difficult or impossible to solve. The class will introduce the students to the theory of wicked problems, engage them in transdisciplinary approaches to address such problems using collaborative strategies such as participatory modeling combined with conceptual and agent-based models. Scenario-based simulations and visualizations will be used to explore possible futures and to create foresight related to wicked problems.

New course on Sustainability Leadership: The IDS/BIOL/OEAS 467 Sustainability Leadership Course was taught in the first of the 2017 and 2018 Summer sessions. It will be regulary taught together with the graduate version BIOL/OEAS 567. From 2020 Spring, it will be taught in the Spring term. Creating a more sustainable society presents a serious challenge and at the same time an enormous opportunity. In this class, students discovered what makes a leader for sustainability. They considered a range of global and local crises from a leadership point of view in the context of sustainability science, which addresses the development of communities in a rapidly changing social, economic, and environmental system-of-systems environment. The course takes a transdisciplinary problem-motivated and solution-focused approach to the wicked problems in sustainability science. The course includes service-learning projects, in which students worked in small groups on developing solutions for real-world wicked problems from a leadership point of view. The projects included mandatory one-week work periods in Florida. The course is a core course for the interdisciplinary minor in Conservation Leadership.

Interdisciplinary IDS/BIOL/OEAS 466 Course on Mitigation and Adaptation Studies. The course was taught in Fall 2016 and Springs 2017 and 2018. Since Spring 2018, it is a 'W' course. It is being taught together with a graduate version BIOL/OEAS 566. Beginning in 2019, it will be regularly taught in the Fall term. The course gives an introduction to the science underpinning mitigation of human-induced changes in the Earth system, including but not limited to climate change, sea level rise, and land use, and discusses adaptation to the impacts of these changes. The course covers the environmental hazards and the opportunities and limitations for conservation, mitigation and adaptation. The course is a core course for the interdisciplinary minor in Conservation Leadership.

New interdisciplinary minor in Conservation Leadership: This interdisciplinary Minor focuses on conservation solutions in the context of our quickly changing planet. A goal of this new program is to develop the next generation of conservation leaders with the ability to critically review underlying paradigms and to initiate paradigm shifts where they are needed in conservation roles, such as in local, state and federal agency and non-profit sectors, to more suitably address the challenges of sea level rise and climate change. The core of this 15 credit minor is built around two courses on Adaptation Studies and Sustainability Leadership. The course on Sustainability Leadership is a service learning course. One additional course is an elective, which can be selected across disciplines to suit a wide-range of conservation interests. An internship is the capstone of this minor. For more information, see here.

In the 2016 Summer term (June 27 — August 6, 2016), the graduate course “Decisions, Biases, and the Creation of Knowledge” studied how personal, community and cultural biases impact the creation of knowlegde and the use of it in decision making.