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Problem-Based Learning in Ecological Economics. Joshua Farley and Jon D. Erickson University of Vermont Herman E. Daly University of Maryland. Problem-Based Learning in Ecological Economics. What does an ecological economist do? What approach does the ecological economist take?

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problem based learning in ecological economics

Problem-Based Learning in Ecological Economics

Joshua Farley and Jon D. Erickson

University of Vermont

Herman E. Daly

University of Maryland

problem based learning in ecological economics1
Problem-Based Learning inEcological Economics
  • What does an ecological economist do?
  • What approach does the ecological economist take?
  • How do we train the ecological economist?
  • How can the ecological economist change the world?
the ecological economist solves problems
The ecological economistsolves problems
  • Problems that are complex
    • Feedbacks
    • Non-linear
    • Emergent properties
    • Surprise
    • Chaotic behavior
the ecological economist solves problems1
The ecological economistsolves problems
  • Problems not suitable for experimentation or repeatable scientific observation
the ecological economist solves problems2
The ecological economistsolves problems
  • Problems where data and ‘facts’

are scarce and

uncertain

the ecological economist solves problems3
The ecological economistsolves problems
  • Problems where there is rarely a ‘right’ answer
the ecological economist solves problems4
The ecological economistsolves problems
  • Problems where the stakes are high, and decisions are urgent.
to solve problems the ecological economist is a trans disciplinarian
To solve problems, the ecological economist is a trans-disciplinarian
  • Abandoning academic autism
    • Autism, a disorder characterized by:
      • Absorption in self-centered subjective mental activity (such as daydreams, fantasies, delusions, and hallucinations)
      • Marked deficits in communication and social interaction
      • Marked withdrawal from reality
      • Abnormal behavior, such as . . . excessive attachment to certain objects
to solve problems the ecological economist is a trans disciplinarian1
To solve problems, the ecological economist is a trans-disciplinarian
  • Complementing disciplines
  • Expanding role of non-scientist
  • Problem defines methods
the problem solving process
The Problem Solving Process
  • The Problem Base
  • Analysis
  • Synthesis
  • Communication
the problem base
The Problem Base

Ch. 1 – Choosing a Problem

  • What is an ecological economic problem?
  • What are the desirable ends?
  • Who is working on the problem?

Project Step 1: Generating a list of projects and groups of students.

the problem base1
The Problem Base

Ch. 2 – Defining the Problem

  • What are the available means?
  • What are the characteristics and state of knowledge of the scarce resources?
  • Who receives the benefits and who receives the burdens?

Project Step 2: Contacting and contracting with a sponsor.

the problem base2
The Problem Base

Ch. 3 – Structuring the Problem

  • What is the context of the problem?
  • How did the problem become a problem?
  • What are the decision alternatives to achieve desirable ends?

Project Step 3: Preliminary research, interviews, and literature review.

analysis
Analysis

Ch. 4 – Breaking down the Problem

  • What are the objectives of the problem-solver?
  • What are the marginal benefits and costs of the objectives?
  • What is the optimal scale as it relates to your problem?

Project Step 4: Problem statement.

analysis1
Analysis

Ch. 5 – Evaluating the Objectives

  • What knowledge and skills are needed to evaluate the objectives?
  • Where and how can these knowledge and skills be found among stakeholder expertise?
  • Where and how can these knowledge and skills be found among disciplinary expertise?

Project Step 5: Begin analysis based on inventory of stakeholder and disciplinary expertise.

synthesis
Synthesis

Ch. 6 – Bringing it all Together

  • How do the objectives influence one another?
  • What are the key positive and negative feedback loops in the system?
  • What ends get priority, and to what extent should resources be reallocated to achieve them?

Project Step 6: Preliminary synthesis of goals, criteria, and decision alternatives.

synthesis1
Synthesis

Ch. 7 – Choosing a Synthesis Framework

  • Multi-criteria decision aides
  • Systems dynamic modeling
  • Integrating accounting
  • Life-cycle analysis
  • Geographic information systems

Project Step 7: Choose and work within a synthesis framework .

communication
Communication

Ch. 8 – Communicating the Results

  • What are your communication goals, and who is the audience?
  • How should you organize effective communication skills and techniques?
  • Who should be involved in an extended peer review?

Project Step 8: Final draft and extended peer review.

communication1
Communication

Ch. 9 – Changing the World

  • How can your work help change the world?
  • How can your project inform policy and management reform?
  • How can you increase the odds your work is carried on?

Project Step 9: Handoff to sponsor.

case studies
Case Studies
  • Reforestation as a watershed management tool in Brazil’s Atlantic forest
  • Living machines and wastewater management
  • Transportation planning in Burlington, VT
  • Urban sprawl in the Hudson River Valley, NY
  • Measuring genuine progress in regional economies
  • Conversion of Mangrove Ecosystems to Shrimp Aquaculture in the Philippines
to change the world the ecological economist finds and uses leverage
To change the world, the ecological economist finds and uses leverage

9. Numbers

8. Material Stocks and Flows

7. Regulating Negative Feedback Loops

6. Driving Positive Feedback Loops

5. Information Flows

4. The Rules of the System

3. The Power of Self Organization

2. The Goals of the System

Donella Meadows, Places to Intervene in a System

to change the world the ecological economist finds and uses leverage1
To change the world, the ecological economist finds and uses leverage

1. The mindset or paradigm out of which the goals, rules, and feedback structure arises

Ecological Economics

problem based learning in ecological economics2
Problem-Based Learning inEcological Economics
  • What does an ecological economist do?
  • What approach does the ecological economist take?
  • How do we train the ecological economist?
  • How can the ecological economist change the world?

Chapter Drafts: www.uvm.edu/~jdericks/EEwkbk/

Comments: Jon.Erickson@uvm.edu

Joshua.Farley@uvm.edu