Vallembrosa, Tuscany, Italy
This program is designed for graduate students in forestry, natural resources and related fields
This class will bring students from (at least) four universities and countries to explore forests as a complex adaptive system in an international context. The course is the second in a series of classes, the first of which was offered in Oregon in 2015.
Current trends such as global change will require natural resource disciplines, such as forestry and agriculture, to expand their scientific basis and possibly shift their dominant paradigms to adopt a broader view of the systems they manage as complex social-ecological systems. This will result in borrowing and adapting theories and concepts from other disciplines, such as complexity science. Students in natural resources need training in these paradigms and learn to incorporate concepts such as thresholds, uncertainty, and cross-scale interactions into management or restoration prescriptions. The course will center on general complexity concepts, including management implications at the governance levels. In the field component, these concepts are specifically applied to practical management challenges. This course provides field exercises that link theoretical concepts from complexity science to applied forest management and restoration issues.
Following the theoretical section (web-based online), students from different countries will gather in Italy to engage their new skills in practice. Multi-national student groups will be assigned a forest site as their study area, and these sites will be visited during our tour of the Vallembrosa Forest on Monday, September 25. Groups will be provided with existing forest inventory data, previous management plans and other documentation available describing proposed or past interventions (including natural disturbances such as past major insect outbreaks, fires, wind storms, etc., or historical human occupation). Students are encouraged to visit the forest (repeatedly) and take any additional data as they see fit, as they develop their understanding of the forest as a unique example of a complex system, and evaluate how it functions in light of complex system concepts. The groups will focus on a series of exercises, which challenge students to apply theoretical concepts from complexity science in real world settings. Each exercise ends in group presentations and class discussions. Exercises are designed to build on each other and assess different aspects of the overall learning goals.
Students will live as a community in Vallembrosa Abbey, originally a monastic building dating back to the 11th century. Located in the Apennines south of Florence, is now affiliated with the Istituto Superiore Forestale Nazionale, and managed by the University of Florence.
(includes: lodging, some meals, ground transportation, program excursions, etc.)
Total Program Cost Estimate: $3,011