One of the central objectives of education is to foster the formation of systematic thinking. But systematic thought processes and a comprehensive approach is difficult in a conventional education system, where different disciplines are considered to be separate, with no overarching element to connect them all. Fortunately, experience proves that ecology can be one such unifying element.
In this summer course, we will discuss some general ecological principles that will help you to better understand how learning takes place. Using both concrete and metaphorical methods, we will examine how the following concepts relate to learning:
• Ecological levels and organizations
• Ecological factors
• Positive and negative feedback mechanisms in population dynamics
• Complex systems and cycles
• Relationships between species
• Ecotones and ecosystems
The structure of the course is based on the belief that learning is a biological and evolutionary process. Learning is biological in that it is an opportunity to survive, while it is also evolutionary in that it is defined by testing, failing, refining, and trying again. If the environment changes, (re)learning is required. Novel educational approaches will be used to keep things interesting, including tablet computers and bicycles.
In fostering the development of a systematic, comprehensive worldview, an understanding of basic ecological principles is vital. Based on this, we will try to create a learning experience that is a pleasure for the head, heart, and hands.