Watershed Management & Environmental Restoration


—New Fall Term Online Course for Dalhousie Students—


Dalhousie Students can register through Dal Online

Non-Dalhousie students can contact extended.learning@dal.ca or phone 902-893-6666 to register.

[Dalhousie students whom have taken this course before include those in Environmental Science, International Development Studies, Landscape Architecture, Biology, Integrated Environmental Management, Sustainability and Society, and Plant Science. The course has developed a reputation among students and distance learning professionals for being one of the best organized online courses currently taught at the university.]

Course Description: This non-quantitative course focuses on social-ecological management and restoration and has a “Humanities” designation. The course will appeal to students with interests in the landscape architecture, sustainability science, regional planning, urban design, eco-literacy, and eco-philosophy, of the environmental management of threatened, and the post-land use regeneration of degraded, landscapes, some in an international development context.

Learning Outcomes: The objective of this course is to introduce students to the one of the most popular and important forms of contemporary environmental management.  The course approaches this goal through the fields of social-ecological watershed management and environmental restoration, which blend together science and sociology, often through the lenses of landscape architecture, ecological science, and environmental engineering.  By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Understand the link between environmental restoration and ecotourism, and selected elements of Canadian water policy
  • Understand the principles of effective, integrative watershed management
  • Recognize how GIS analysis can aid in studying deleterious human influences on freshwater ecosystems, and the importance of stewardship and participation in successful environmental restoration
  • Understand the diversity of options available to improve social-ecological conditions through land-use planning in international settings
  • Foster an appreciation for inter-disciplinarity, in particular the ability to study and analyze projects holistically in terms of deliverables through the co-dependent lenses of science, sociology, and landscape architecture
  • Develop and hone their critical skills in reviewing, synthesizing, and distilling information in the form of digital presentations and written assignments

Textbooks: Module 1 -- France, R.L. (Ed.) 2005. Facilitating Watershed Management: Fostering Awareness and Stewardship. Rowman & Littlefield. Module 2 -- France, R.L. (Ed.) 2008. Healing Natures, Repairing Relationships: New Perspectives on Restoring Ecological Spaces and Consciousness. Green Frigate Books. An open-access website, Integrated Watershed Management, from the University of British Columbia will serve as an additional course textbook: http://ubclfs-wmc.landfood.ubc.ca/webapp/IWM.

Course Format and Marking: For each week, learning material is presented in several different formats. First, a set of power point presentations (PPTs) are provided that contain information distilled from many pertinent sources. These PPTs contain voice-over dialogue by the professor to guide the student through, while emphasizing the most important elements therein. Next, one or several video lectures are viewed. These are our virtual guest speakers -- representing some of the world’s leading practitioners and researchers – who were filmed previously at a series of conferences run at Harvard and Dalhousie Universities.

Each week students have to produce a list of short salient points that demonstrate they have viewed the online material. They will also read a chapter in the assigned book and engage in an online discussion. There is no final exam. In addition to the weekly salient points, students will write a thematic essay about a topic of interest, and participate in a developing a professional brief addressing elements to improve conditions for a real-world location of their own choosing.

Module One: Watershed Management and Education

Watersheds have become recognized as being the most effective landscape units for ecologically sound environmental management and planning, as well as for environmental education.  Managing watersheds is often about managing people in the watersheds. This module will explore the sociology and science of watershed management and planning by reviewing the successes and limitations of illustrative case studies. Background topics include: watershed atlases, water sensitive planning, water resource and watershed management, land-use systems analysis, and community-based monitoring and management by ‘citizen-scientists.’

Module Two: Environmental Restoration Design

Noted American environmentalist Aldo Leopold once remarked that we live in a damaged “world of wounds.” Today, one of the most rapidly expanding environmental fields is that of restoration. By replacing apathy with action and therefore fatalism with hope, environmental restoration may be the best means of saving environmentalism from itself. Such restoration is as much about process as product, sociology as ecology, and artful design as empirical engineering or science. Critics, however, warn that restoration is a slippery and dangerous slope, only providing bandage fixes while creating new natures that are mere fakes of the real things lost. This module will review the theoretical and philosophical debates concerning environmental restoration and consider why it is the most intellectually challenging of all forms of contemporary environmental management. The module will also specifically examine case studies involving the return of damaged land to a ‘natural’ state for purposes of ecotourism and environmental education. Other topics include the regeneration of post-industrial urban sites and the ecocultural restorative redevelopment of devastated landscapes in the developing world.