“Principles of Invasion Ecology” was offered as one of the courses for Hokkaido Summer Institute 2017. It lasted for 5 days from August 14th to the 18th.
In this course, undergraduate students were taught about invasive alien species and their problematic influence on diminishing native species, the problems they cause for human health and the issues they can cause for the environment and human society. This class aimed not only to teach students the progress of invasive species and the damage they have caused, but also to arm them with an understanding of the causes and prevention methods against invasive species. The main lecturer of this course was Dr. Al Glen from New Zealand, a leading country in studies on invasive species. This class offered both lectures and seminars.
In class, Dr. Glen makes use of detailed slides for his lecture in each period. Furthermore, if necessary, the Faculty of Letters Regional Sciences Major’s own Professor Tohru Ikeda uses concrete examples in Japan for supplementary explanations. At the end of each lecture subject, a test is given on the content of the lecture in order to ensure that students have thoroughly grasped the material.
The content of the class began from an explanation of what invasive alien species are, and went on to cover the themes of their characteristics, the process of invasion and its influence, the regionality and mutuality of invasive species, and new concepts of eco-management and risk evaluation that includes invasive species. This class thus covered invasive ecology so that students could gain a systematic and comprehensive understanding of the topic. Hence, while it was an introductory class, it furthermore offered a wealth of knowledge to the participating students.
On the final day, students participated in a group work project on a risk assessment system for invasive alien vegetation. Participating students divided into small groups, at which point they would all use the same evaluation index for the project given to their group. In the end, groups would present the results of their work and answer questions from the lecturers.
Students expressed high levels of satisfaction on their surveys. Particularly, the fulfilling lectures seems to have received positive evaluations. While many students felt that the tests and reports for the classes were challenging, being able to not only hear lectures to from a world-leading researcher, but to also discuss and work on this topic made this a fulfilling 5 day-class. Next year as well, Dr. Glen will be invited to work continue this class.