Species diversity provides a series of unique non-substitutable ecosystem goods that humans depend on for food, shelter, medicines and materials and ecosystem services which our environments require to regulate climate, control disease, purify air and water, and decompose wastes. We will explore these links and what they mean for human health and well-being and discuss how humans are causing changes in our life support system through overharvesting, pollution, habitat loss, and climate change.

The course will consist primarily of structured group discussions. I will give one introductory lecture and lead off discussion on the weekly topic. The remaining class time will be dedicated to group discussions of a) supplementary readings from the scientific literature to build a scientific foundation (provided by me), and b) online news items to provide real-world examples and insights into public understanding (provided by you).