Instructor:                Joshua Drew

1009 Schermerhorn Ext.

phone: 212 845-7807

email – [email protected]

Meeting Time:          Th 12:10-2:00pm

Office Hours:           Thursday 2-3 or by appointment

Prerequisites:         undergraduate or graduate level coursework in ecology, evolution and or conservation biology.


This class will focus on a critical understanding of major global threats to biodiversity. We will also dedicate considerable time to introducing students to the analytical tools and methods necessary to critically evaluate competing demands for limited conservation resources. Upon completion of this course students will have an understanding of the historical roots of conservation issues as well as being able to develop quantitative and culturally appropriate approaches to addressing these issues.



Historical Essay 10%

Group Project Outline 10%

Group Project Draft 20%

Group Project Final 20%

Group Project Presentation 10%

Discussion (Leading) 10%

Discussion (Participation) 20%

This class will consist of one weekly lectures and discussions of the literature. Each week a student will have to lead at least one class discussion concerning the readings. This will occur during the last hour of class and the leader should be prepared to keep the conversation running for that length of time. To facilitate this the discussion leader will have thoroughly read all the papers and be prepared to ask questions that draw linkages across the topics not simply summarizing the papers. Students may lead the discussion in a traditional question and answer format, or through more active techniques. They will be graded on the following criteria: 1) understanding of individual papers (40%) 2) synthesis across papers and with the lecture topic (40%) 3) ability to foster student engagement (20%). For each discussion I will choose one older paper and it will be up to the discussion leader to choose a more recent (2015-2018) paper about that week’s topic. Students much email me the paper one week before their discussion so that everyone has a chance to read it. I expect every student to have read each of the assigned papers for each class. Failure to do so will not only hurt your own education, but will lower the your grade.

Student participation:

Everyone in this class should feel comfortable to express an idea, even if the idea is not a popular one. I encourage intellectual controversy and believe it is how we learn best. We expect all students to abide by their respective school’ code of academic integrity GSAS: Breaches of the student code such as cheating and plagiarism (that is, taking credit for the work of others) will not be tolerated, and any breaches of the student code will be referred to the Dean’s Office. Students seeking disability services must register here, and I will be happy to accommodate their recommendations.

Group Project:

Students will work in groups of three or four individuals will complete one of two group projects. One project will focus on stakeholder participation and mental models of ecosystems services of oyster reefs. The second project will be to establish a series of conservation programs for a tropical island state of the groups choice. More details will be given in class however the key to success on these is to keep working incrementally. Because of this you will have a first draft of your project due AFTER SPRING BREAK. You will have weekly meetings with Christian to keep track of progress and you will have to report weekly in class on your updates.


Week 1 January 18th: History

Journal Readings: Wallace, Alfred Russell. “On the physical geography of the Malay Archipelago.” The Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London 33 (1863): 217-234.


Week 2 January 25th: What is the Scale for Conservation

Journal Readings “Additive partitioning of species diversity across multiple spatial scales: implications for regional conservation of biodiversity.” Conservation Biology 17.2 (2003): 488-499.


Week 3 February 1st: Island Biogeography

Journal Readings: Diamond, Jared M. “Biogeographic kinetics: estimation of relaxation times for avifaunas of southwest Pacific islands.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 69.11 (1972): 3199-3203.


Week 4 February 8th: Fortress Conservation vs. Poverty Alleviation

Journal Readings: McNally, Catherine G., Emi Uchida, and Arthur J. Gold. “The effect of a protected area on the tradeoffs between short-run and long-run benefits from mangrove ecosystems.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108.34 (2011): 13945-13950.


Week 5 February 15th: Wildlife Trafficking (Taught by Dr. Liz Bennett – Vice President, Species Conservation)


Week 6 February 22nd: Human Natural Systems

Journal Readings: Nyaki, Angela, et al. “Local‐scale dynamics and local drivers of bushmeat trade.” Conservation biology 28.5 (2014): 1403-1414.


Week 7 March 1: Diversity and Inclusion in Conservation

Journal Readings: Brown, Holly Milton, Ambika Kamath, and Margaret Rubega. “Facilitating discussions about privilege among future conservation practitioners.Conservation Biology 31.3 (2017): 727-730.


Week 8 March 8th: Parks and Climate Change Co-teaching with Tiff van Huysen (Columbia EI)

Journal Readings: TBD


Week 9 March 15th: Spring Break


Week 10 March 22nd: TBD/Project Drafts


Week 11 March 29th: Assisted Conservation

Journal Readings:

Journal McDonald-Madden, Eve, et al. “Optimal timing for managed relocation of species faced with climate change.Nature Climate Change 1.5 (2011): 261-265.


Week 12 April 5th: Flagships and Keystones

Journal Readings: Douglas, Leo R., and Diogo Veríssimo. “Flagships or battleships: deconstructing the relationship between social conflict and conservation flagship species.Environment and Society 4.1 (2013): 98-116.


Week 13 April 12th:

REDD+ and International Conservation

Journal Readings: Phelps, Jacob, Edward L. Webb, and Lian P. Koh. “Risky business: an uncertain future for biodiversity conservation finance through REDD+.Conservation Letters 4.2 (2011): 88-94.


Week 14 April 17th: Conflict in Conservation (Co taught by Drew Cronin WCS)

Journal Readings: Dudley, Joseph P., et al. “Effects of war and civil strife on wildlife and wildlife habitats.Conservation Biology 16.2 (2002): 319-329.


Week 15 April 26th: Final Presentations




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