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January Term Undergraduate Class Offered at Harvard Forest

December 1, 2010
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This winter, a new January Term course will be offered at Harvard Forest: Reading the New England Landscape: Conservation and human impacts on the past, present, and future. This highly interdisciplinary and hands-on course will explore modern-day connections between humans and the natural environment through the lens of long-term landscape change. Inquiry will focus on the historical and archival records and ongoing, long-term experiments of the Harvard Forest, Harvard's center for ecology and conservation in Petersham, Massachusetts. Students will accompany researchers, conservation specialists, and writers/artists into the New England landscape to discuss human-landscape experience over time and how this influences past, present, and future cultural shaping of the natural world. Students will spend a full week at the Harvard Forest in comfortable and typical New England accommodations with round-trip travel, day-trips, and meals provided. Through field excursions, hands-on workshops, and small group discussions, students will become versed in the long term and recent ecological history of New England, the many facets of human-landscape interaction through time, and the region's major conservation challenges for the next century. A parallel goal of the course is to produce student work that interprets these issues for a broad audience though writing and visual art exercises. To accomplish this, students will spend time each evening responding to the research content presented in day-time field trip and class instruction under the guidance of our local scientists, nature writers and artists. In their creative work, students will draw from elements of the landscape as well archival documents, images, and datasets. Student works will be displayed on campus early during the spring semester. The rural, immersive setting at the Forest provides a unique, place-based educational experience that enhances Harvard's J-Term opportunities for students in both the sciences and the humanities. 

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