You are on page 1of 4

Ecological Design Summer Institute

NR 288 Z1 (3 credits)

Course Time & Location:

Summer 2017, July 17th to August 11th. TWR 9 am 12:45 pm, 202 Aiken Center


Eric Roy, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor, Ecological Design Lab, RSENR

Office: 210 Aiken Building: Office hours by appointment.

Matt Beam, M.S.; Research Specialist, Ecological Design Lab, RSENR

Office: 212 Aiken Building: Office hours by appointment:

Contacting the instructors:

The best way to reach either of us is by e-mail. Please put NR95 in the subject line of the
email so that we will review it and respond more quickly to your questions or concerns.

Course Summary:

The Ecological Design Summer Institute is an intensive, hands-on introduction to

ecological design & engineering. Ecological design has been defined as any form of
design that minimizes environmentally destructive impacts by integrating itself with
living process (Van der Ryn & Cowan 1996). Similarly, ecological engineering is the
development of sustainable ecosystems that integrate human society with its natural
environment for the benefit of both (Mitsch & Jrgensen 1989).

In this course, we will explore the potential for ecological design & engineering to help
mitigate contemporary environmental problems and shape a desirable future. Many of our
environmental problems are unintended consequences of design. Design shapes the
physical and social details of our daily experience, and is a hinge that inevitably connects
culture and nature through exchanges of materials, flows of energy, and choices of land
use (Van der Ryn & Cowan 1996).

The foundation of ecological design & engineering is a scientific understanding of

ecology, so this course will begin with a field ecology module. Field outings will be
focused on soil and water science, and students will learn how to make measurements
that provide windows into unfolding ecological processes. Students will next apply
ecological principles to design through hands-on design-build projects. Each student will
construct their own ecological microcosm a complete living system sealed inside a
large jar. As a group, teams of students will design and build a small-scale eco-machine
for water treatment in a campus greenhouse.

We will also explore numerous ecological design solutions for resource management,
food production, energy production, and beneficial landscape interventions. This will
include several field trips to ecological design projects in Vermont.
Learning Objectives:

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

(1) Understand and discuss principles of ecological design.
(2) Use basic ecology concepts and measurements in the design process.
(3) Use systems thinking and assessment to evaluate design alternatives.
(4) Describe the intersections between place-based ecological design and social justice.
(5) Use basic construction skills on a design-build project.
(6) Collaborate with team members on an interdisciplinary design project.
(7) Design, build, and monitor small-scale eco-machines for water treatment.
(8) Describe ecological design strategies in a range of contexts (water, food, waste,
energy, shelter, and ecosystem remediation/intervention)

Required Texts / Materials:

Bring an unlined notebook dedicated to this class. Readings will be provided. Some class
time will be spent in the field or building. On those days appropriate clothing and shoes
will be required, along with water and sunscreen.

Know your rights and responsibilities. UVM policies:

Student Learning Accommodations: In keeping with University policy, any student with
a documented disability interested in utilizing accommodations should contact ACCESS,
the office of Disability Services on campus. ACCESS works with students and faculty in
an interactive process to explore reasonable and appropriate accommodations via an
accommodation letter to faculty with approved accommodations as early as possible each
semester. All students are strongly encouraged to meet with their faculty to discuss the
accommodations they plan to use in each course.

Contact ACCESS: A170 Living/Learning Center; 802-656-7753;;

UVMs policy on disability certification and student support:

Religious Holidays: Students have the right to practice the religion of their choice. If you
need to miss class to observe a religious holiday, please submit the dates of your absence
to me in writing by the end of the second full week of classes. You will be permitted to
make up work within a mutually agreed-upon time.

Academic Integrity: The policy addresses plagiarism, fabrication, collusion, and cheating.

Grade Appeals: If you would like to contest a grade, please follow the procedures
outlined in this policy:

Grading: For information on grading and GPA calculation, go to and click on Policies for an A-Z listing.

Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities:

FERPA Rights Disclosure: The purpose of this policy is to communicate the rights of
students regarding access to, and privacy of their student educational records as provided
for in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974.

Promoting Health & Safety:

The University of Vermont's number one priority is to support a healthy and safe
Center for Health and Wellbeing
Counseling & Psychiatry Services (CAPS) Phone: (802) 656-3340

C.A.R.E. If you are concerned about a UVM community member or are concerned about
a specific event, we encourage you to contact the Dean of Students Office (802-656-
3380). If you would like to remain anonymous, you can report your concerns online by
visiting the Dean of Students website at

Final exam policy: The University final exam policy outlines expectations during final
exams and explains timing and process of examination period.