Fall Semester, In Person at UW-Madison

Campus will be buzzing with students in the fall as you dive deeper into the applications and analysis of spatial data. The two technical courses in GIS and remote sensing give you hands-on experience working with local and global conservation organizations, and with cloud computing platforms and open-source applications.

Further your effectiveness through professional development in cross-cultural communication, diversity/equity/inclusion/justice, media and outreach training, presentations, and facilitation. Round out your experience with an elective course to focus on the social, economic, or ecological issues relevant to working with geospatial environmental data.

You also have an option of a fall course to focus on the social, economic, or ecological issues relevant to working with geospatial environmental data.

Required Fall Courses

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Conservation GIS (3 credits)

You will learn how to collect and import spatial features from the field, use web-based map tools to engage citizens, and incorporate the best available spatial data from public domain sources. These lessons will prepare you for further spatial analyses of the data, or for generating simple map and report documentation. The second part will explore and use applications of GIS popular for landscape evaluation, environmental analysis, and conservation design.

You will learn to evaluate and quantify landscape pattern, apply spatial thinking to species’ landscape needs, and conduct habitat assessments with GIS tools. The third part will focus on use solutions-oriented applications of GIS particularly related to reserve design and habitat modeling, alternative landscape futures, and strategies for adapting to a changing environment.

Advanced Digital Image Processing (3 credits)

Explores intermediate- to advanced-level image analysis, data extraction, and map-making using earth observation data. Includes change detection, data fusion, analysis of dense image time stacks, as well as traditional and semi-automated radiometric and geometric correction techniques. Examines advanced machine learning and data mining algorithms for environmental applications, including both object-oriented and pixel-based processing. Explores a range of optical, infrared, and radar data across multiple spatial resolutions. Includes hands-on labs and a final project based on the student’s interests.

Professional Development: The Practice of Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development (1 credit)

Focus on professional development skills as it pertains to success as a conservation practitioner. Classes will focus on intercultural dialogue, team dynamics, communication, effective visual presentation, interviewing and presentation skills, and project development. Various guest speakers will also lead in areas of expertise.

Some Fall Elective Course Options

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Environmental Economics (3 credits)

Microeconomic principles underlying the use of natural resources such as air, water, forests, fisheries, minerals and energy. These principles are applied in the examination of pollution control, preservation vs. development, deforestation, and other environmental issues.

Remote Sensing for International Development (3 credits)

Seminar designed to explore the ways remote sensing data are being used within an international development context, broadly defined. Examines how projects were completed with satellite imagery and geospatial data, what data sources were necessary and available (e.g. crowd-sourcing following natural disasters), how expert local knowledge was incorporated, and how various challenges were faced and overcome. Particular attention paid to how application of remote sensing data helped alter policy in different countries across the globe.

Climate Change Ecology (3 credits)

The evidence that the Earth’s climate is changing at unprecedented rates is now overwhelming. Environmental tipping points are being crossed and many species are adapting or failing to adapt. Climate change poses a significant problem for conserving and managing wildlife and their habitats. In this class, students will be introduced to climate change and its ecological impacts through engaging class discussions, online climate exercises, and group projects aimed at developing climate change adaptation plans.

Conservation Biology (3 credits)

Application of ecological principles and human dimensions to the conservation of biological diversity. Topics: biodiversity science; conservation planning; population ecology; habitat loss, species exploitation, invasive species, pollution; human attitudes and activities as they affect the biosphere; approaches to monitoring interventions.

Restoration Ecology (3 credits)

Restoration is an approach to the conservation of native species, plant communities, and ecosystems. It is an interdisciplinary global enterprise practiced by private and public sector professionals and dedicated volunteers of all ages. Covers both the theory and practice of restoration ecology and examine the current opportunities, challenges, and controversies that underlie the field. The goal may be to preserve nature, but restoration is a fundamentally human enterprise — it is accomplished for and by people. Therefore we cover information from ecology, sociology, and the humanities.

Forest Ecology (3 credits)

Introduction to major abiotic and biotic factors that influence forest ecosystem composition, structure, and function. Reviews important processes that influence structure and function of forest ecosystems. Uses basic ecosystem concepts to elucidate influence of anthropogenic (including forest management) and natural disturbances on forest ecosystem structure and function.

Bonus Activities

Dozens of Nelson Institute events

Multiple guest seminars

Professional development workshops