Fall 2023
September 5 - December 31
Thursdays, 9:45am - 11:45am
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Research at the Harvard Forest—Global Change Ecology: Forests, Ecosystem Function, the Future


The seminar will consist of three weekend field trips (Friday evening through Sunday afternoon) to Harvard Forest and a final mini symposium (Sunday afternoon to Monday afternoon) at the Harvard Forest. The seminar will acquaint students with our current knowledge about global change, drawing upon state-of-the-art research, tools, and measurements used in evaluating and predicting climate change through ongoing studies at the Harvard Forest’s 4,000-acre outdoor classroom and laboratory in Petersham, Massachusetts. Students will spend the weekends at the Harvard Forest (HF) in comfortable accommodations with round-trip travel and meals provided. Through readings, informal discussions, and field excursions, students will become versed in the ecological concepts related to global change, and the science behind current predictions for future climate scenarios.  September 15 -17, October 13-15, November 3-5, December 10-11. Through the three weekends we will broadly discuss the critical role that forests play in a changing climate, with in-depth discussions on specific topics such as carbon dioxide emissions, invasive species, and forecasting the future with ecological data. Visits to various long-term ecological experiments and associated infrastructure will show students how climate change impacts are assessed, and discussions will emphasize how scientists predict future climate change through modeling. Students will prepare a written exercise following each weekend based on the topics discussed and will work on a final paper and presentation for a mini symposium on the last day of class. The field trip format is intended to immerse students in an active field research setting and to allow extended small group discussion and interaction with a number of leading global change scientists at one of the preeminent field research sites in the U.S. Students will come away with an understanding of the types of ecological evidence for global warming and will be able to explain, to a broad audience, some of the major scientific methods used in predicting its consequences. Due to the course format of 3 weekends and a final symposium, students must be able to attend all class dates, TBA. Transportation, accommodations, and meals at the Harvard Forest will be provided at no cost to the student. Course open to First-Year Students Only

First Year Seminar Program
Faculty of Arts & Sciences
Course Level
Interest Area
Physical Sciences
Cross Registration
Not Available