Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute


Offered at: Pratt Logo

Note: This version of this particular course is no longer offered. In the Fall of 2017, Pratt’s general education curriculum shifted, requiring a “core” math or science course of all sophomore art and design students. This new “core” version of this course is called Ecology, Environment, & the Anthropocene, and it is the only ecology course that I currently teach.

Course Description:
Ecology is the study of the interactions between organisms and their environment. This course provides a background in the fundamental principles of ecological science, including concepts of natural selection, population and community ecology, biodiversity, and sustainability. Students will acquire an “ecological literacy” about how the natural world works, and develop an understanding of how scientific methods are used to construct ecological knowledge. The course will also explore some of today’s major ecological challenges, and the important research that is being done to address these concerns.

Who Might Be Interested In This Course?
As the course description suggests, Ecology is aimed at giving students an overview of the field of ecology and how it applies to the sustainability of human societies. If you are curious about how the interactions between individual organisms and their environments scale up to global ecosystems, this course will provide you with a good introduction to nested complexity of the natural world. This course is also designed to meet the requirements for Pratt’s emerging minor in Sustainability, so whether or not you plan to minor in sustainability, Ecology will provide you with the critical biological framework for understanding the modern “green revolution”. There is no final exam in this course, but I do give weekly quizzes to make sure that you understand the readings and concepts taught in previous weeks. Your main opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of key concepts is on the Midterm Paper and Final Project (guidelines posted below).  I also ask that students engage in regular discussions, often in small groups, so you should be prepared to be actively involved during class sessions. Ecology requires a fair amount of reading (see the syllabus below for details), so you should be prepared to allocate at least three hours a week to reading for this course. If you are concerned about making sure you fulfill your Math & Science requirement, one nice thing about this course is that it awards a lot of credit for work done within the class sessions themselves; if you regularly attend classes, it is difficult to fail this course.

What Background Should I Have Before I Take This Course?
This course requires no formal background in the biological sciences. It is nice if you have some memory of your high school biology class, but even that is not required.

MSCI-270 (Ecology) Course Syllabus
MSCI-270 (Ecology) Midterm Paper Guidelines
MSCI-270 (Ecology) Final Project Guidelines

You can check out exemplary Midterm Papers and Final Projects on the Ecology student work page.

Blog posts related to this course can be found here.

This course maintains an Open Information Environment.