University of Alaska Fairbanks  
three photos of: a sea nettle by Stephen Jewett; student Jessica Johnson holding a salmon and urchins, clams, crabs by Bluhm/Gradinger

Social, Oceanographic and Ecological Perspectives (SOEP) in Marine Ecosystems  (ANTH/FISH/MSL/NRM 693) (4 cr)

An intensive three-week, team-taught course in the summer, is required for all entering students immediately preceding their first fall semester. The course is intended to expose students from diverse backgrounds to fundamental principles and analytic approaches in core IGERT disciplines. The course is theme-based and explores how different disciplines might approach the definition, analysis, and resolution of a common problem, to teach the basic principles and basic methodologies that different disciplines might apply. Faculty rotate through the course representing different disciplines, including marine ecology, fisheries, fisheries management, oceanography, marine policy & economics and fisheries anthropology. For example, one theme might explore the role of shellfish farming and ocean ranching in Alaska. An ecologist might address aspects of the relationships between farms and stock enhancements on natural communities. An economist might look at the role of shellfish farming and ocean ranching in local and regional economies or at the efficiency of alternative regulatory structures. An anthropologist might examine the social and cultural impacts and feedbacks of these activities in fishing communities, while a policy analyst might construct a risk analysis of alternative rules and regulations. Workshops and discussions in communication, scientific ethics, group dynamics, and conflict resolution are held in the evenings. We expect to integrate other IGERT faculty and visiting scholars into the three-week program, as time and availability allow. This summer course is held at a University of Alaska facility, in Sitka, Kachemak Bay, Seward, Juneau or Kodiak. These locations offer the advantage of having research vessels, small boats, access to marine habitats, and outstanding amenity values, as well as offering an off-campus community-building experience for MESAS faculty and students.

Marine Ecosystems (MSL 652) (3 cr)

This course is a synthesis of ecological processes that support the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems. It is taught by Gordon Kruse and Ginny Eckert. The course covers specifics about physiological and population levels of marine biological organization. Fundamentals of how populations interact with each other and their environment are reviewed. The mechanisms for maintaining marine communities and ecosystems over space and time are evaluated. The course considers principles of biogeography, ecological gradients, and biomes, as well as case studies for a few of the world’s LMEs, with an emphasis on the Arctic, Bering Sea, GOA, Southern Ocean, and the world’s major upwelling systems. This course is required for all MESAS IGERT students, because it provides an understanding of the marine ecosystem processes that are affected by both climate and human interactions. Thus, the course provides a foundation for interdisciplinary studies, regardless of the particular orientation of each student.

Marine Sustainability Internship (FISH/MSL/ANTH/NRM 680) (2 cr)

Internship program in marine ecosystem sustainability to broaden students' interdisciplinary training, develop new research tools, build expertise outside their home discipline, gain exposure to careers, and gain a unique perspective on research problems. Internships are for a minimum of 8 weeks and take place during the summer. In the autumn students report on and meet to discuss their internship experiences.

Global to Local Sustainability (BIOL/ANTH/ECON/NRM 647) (3 cr)

This course explores basic principles that govern resilience and change of ecological and social systems. The principles are applied at the level of populations, communities, regions and the globe. Working within and across each of these scales, students address the processes that influence ecological, cultural and economic sustainability, with an emphasis on Alaskan examples. This course is required for all RAP IGERT students, is taught by Terry Chapin and others, and is required of all MESAS IGERT students. This course, therefore, provides an opportunity for integration among students in both the terrestrially-based (RAP) and marine-based (MESAS) sustainability IGERTs at UAF.

Students may take either this class or Human Dimensions of Marine Systems (FISH 411) or Management of Renewable Marine Resources (FISH 640) to meet the Regional Sustainability course requirement.

Human Dimensions of Marine Systems (FISH 411) (3 cr)

This course addresses the study of human environment relationships and applications to resource management. It draws on a range of social scientific approaches to the study of environmental systems, including: environmental anthropology, environmental history, historical ecology, political ecology, ethnoecology, property theory, and environmental justice.

Students may take either this class or Management of Renewable Marine Resources (FISH 640) or Regional Sustainability (BIOL/ANTH/ECON/NRM 647) to meet the Regional Sustainability course requirement.

Management of Renewable Marine Resources (FISH 640) (3 cr)

This course covers the broad interdisciplinary field of marine fishery management. Specific topics include fishery management objectives, an overview of fisheries worldwide with special emphasis on Alaskan fisheries, comparison of fished marine ecosystems, an overview of different life histories of fished species, fish population structure, fishing gears and technologies, human dimensions of fisheries, single and multispecies stock assessments, fish stock identification, population dynamics, fishery data acquisition methods, bioeconomic considerations, fishing effects on populations and communities, fishery bycatch, impacts of fishing on benthic habitats, fishery interactions with marine mammals and seabirds, aquaculture, other ecosystem considerations. Given these factors, students examine a variety of management options, such as harvest controls (e.g., harvest rate, size limit), effort controls (e.g., limited access, individual fishery quotas, fishery cooperatives), alternative gears, and area closures (e.g., marine protected areas), and review the international, national and regional fishery institutions by which fisheries are managed. The course is taught by Gordon Kruse.

Students may take either this class or Human Dimensions of Marine Systems (FISH 411) or Regional Sustainability (BIOL/ANTH/ECON/NRM 647) to meet the Regional Sustainability course requirement.

Innovative Approaches to Marine Ecosystems (IAME) (ANTH/FISH/MSL/NRM 692) (1 cr)

The cornerstone of the MESAS IGERT required coursework is an interdisciplinary 1-credit discussion-based seminar held each spring semester and required for all MESAS students. MESAS faculty moderate the seminar, and this responsibility rotates among the faculty. The goal of the seminar is to reinforce an integrative perspective through exploring different dimensions of marine ecosystem sustainability. For example, the seminar might address the environmental, ecological, economic, and social impacts of cruise ships in Southeast Alaska or climate induced changes in the structure and function of biological and human communities in the Pribilof Islands. The seminar would examine different dimensions of the issue over several weeks. In the cruise ship example, one week might be devoted to an examination of interactions between cruise ships and whales, the next might examine economic or social impacts of cruise ship tourism, and other weeks might be focused on vessel safety, air and water pollution concerns, etc. Students would be tasked with picking topics at the beginning of the semester, and individual students would select the dimensions to be explored in each week through facilitated discussion of published articles or through presentations by invited speakers. This course is a key activity to integrate students from different disciplines to work together on a common problem and involves all MESAS students each year.

Traditional Ecological Knowledge (CCS 612) (3 cr)

The course examines the acquisition and utilization of knowledge associated with the long-term inhabitation of particular ecological systems and the adaptations that arise from the accumulation of such knowledge. Until recently there was very little attention given to how western scientists and educators might better understand local and indigenous worldviews, and even less on what it means for participants when such divergent systems coexist in the same person, organization or community. Indigenous and local communities have a long history of management of marine resources. In this context, attention is given to the contemporary significance of traditional ecological knowledge and local knowledge of fishers as a complement to academic disciplinary fields of study. Students examine ways in which traditional and local ecological knowledge is acquired and utilized in indigenous and local community contexts; explore the potential for application of traditional ecological knowledge to expand our understanding of contemporary issues, locally and globally; examine the epistemological structures typically associated with traditional ecological knowledge; examine the relationship between traditional ecological knowledge and the knowledge associated with Western academic disciplines; and review various reports and documents illustrating the use of traditional ecological knowledge in addressing contemporary problems. Taught by Michael S. Koskey, an anthropologist in the Native Studies department.

The North Pacific Fisheries Management Council: a case study (FISH 693) (2 cr)

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) is one of eight regional councils established by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA). With jurisdiction over the EEZ off Alaska, the Council has primary responsibility for fisheries management in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands. The NPFMC leads the other regional FMCs in integrating science and management. In this 2 week intensive course, students attend a week-long NPFMC meeting with evening debriefings by members of the SSC and NPFMC staff. In the week preceding the NPFMC meeting, faculty lead a directed review of briefing materials and provide background on issues (Draft Environmental Assessments, Regulatory Impact Reviews, Regulatory Flexibility Analyses, and miscellaneous reports). Students are expected to prepare a critical review of the briefing materials prepared for at least one agenda item. Teaching responsibility for the course rotates among IGERT faculty who have experience working with the NPFMC.

back to Academic Program page

©2008 MESAS | contact