Parque Tantauco
Managing Forests as Complex Adaptive Systems: Graduate Field Course in North Patagonia

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Last offered December 8-13, 2019

Next Offering: TBD for 2022

Current trends such as global change will require natural resource disciplines 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. Explore forests as complex adaptive systems in an international context through this graduate field course that has previously been offered in Oregon, Canada, and Italy. 


This graduate-only field course will be held at Tantauco Park on Chiloé Island, off the west coast of southern Chile. The course takes part in conjuction with students from several Chilean universities as well as students from the University of British Columbia and the Universite du Quebec and has a fall term and winter break component. Following an online course during the fall, students will travel to Chile during finals week in December 2019 to engage their new skills in practice. This year's course will focus on forest restoration and management as well as forest degradation in old-growth forests. Throughout the week-long field program, there will also be an emphasis on collaboration, both in the exercises students will complete and through informal research presentations by the leaders and students to receive input and feedback on projects. 

Students will be asked to expand their scientific basis by borrowing theories and concepts from other disciplines, such as complexity theory, as they grapple with the issues of management of natural resources in a time of global change. Students need training in these paradigms and will learn to incorporate concepts such as thresholds, uncertainty, and cross-scale interactions into management or restoration prescriptions. This course provides field exercises that link theoretical concepts from complexity science to applied forest management and restoration issues. The groups will complete 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.