Information about BIOL 345 for 2015-16

Welcome to the Biology 345 course blog.  I’m Dr. Rosie Redfield, a Professor in the Department of Zoology.  Here’s a link to my lab home page The Redfield Lab and to my open research blog RRResearch.

***  IMPORTANT  ***    This course is not formally open to students in the Biology Program or with other life sciences majors (e.g. Biochemistry, Microbiology), but these students may request an exception.  Students in all other majors are welcome (Science, Arts and all other faculties).  Third- and fourth-year students will be given priority over first- and second-year students.

The class meets in Term 2, for 3 hr once a week.  Students are graded mainly on three projects , each on a human-ecology topic they personally consider important.  There is no midterm or final exam.

Each project will be worth 25% of the course grade, with 5% allocated to a very brief proposal, 10% to a draft version reviewed by other students, and 10% to the final product.  The project types are designed to have impacts beyond the course:

  1. Project 1: Creating and/or improving a Wikipedia page about the local environment. Students will work in pairs, with extensive practical support.
  2. Project 2: Creating a 5-minute YouTube video about a human ecology or sustainability finding.
  3. Project 3: Designing and carrying out a small community project.

This course is very participatory.  Most classes will include a 45 min lecture (emphasis on climate change) and discussion of short presentations by class members about their projects.  Here are pdf summaries and links for the projects done by previous students: Projects overview 2015  Projects overview 2014.

Because the class is scheduled from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm, we’ll break for snacks at lunchtime. Everyone will take a turn to bring a snack and briefly explain its ecological significance; this contribution will be worth about 3% of the course grade.  This won’t be a baking contest – Cheetos will be fine provided their ecological significance is explained.

If you have questions about the course you can post them below as comments.  I’ve set the blog to email me whenever a comment appears, and I’ll reply promptly here.  If you have a private question you can email me at

Rosie Redfield

p.s.  Did you know that “Homo sapiens now constitutes eight times the biomass of all other wild terrestrial vertebrates combined”? (from Nature 503:34-35)