Aquatic Biodiversity & Environmental Assessment
Canada-China Exchange Field Course
The proposed field course is designed to provide Canadian and Chinese students with an appreciation of, and first hand experience with, the interaction between immense human development and the environment, with a focus on selected aquatic ecosystems in China and Canada. The course is also intended to equip students with essential biological and environmental skills to assess changes and perturbations in aquatic environments and biodiversity. This course introduces key conservation and environmental issues pertaining to freshwater and some marine environments. It includes exposure to methods for surveying biodiversity, classifying wetlands, and quantifying variation in structural aspects of habitat, hydrology and water chemistry including using bio-assays. It also includes overviews of Canadian and Chinese diversity for key taxonomic groups including fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and plants. An additional aspect of the course is to afford a medium for cultural and academic exchange between Chinese students with Canadian teaching and research faculty members. Students will not only learn about the effects of human development, but also about the differing attitudes and perceptions about development in the two cultures. Moreover, the innovative format of this course will provide a bridge between young scientists from Canada and China with potential to establish future collaborations in research and environmental management.
Goals of This Unique Field Course
To compare and contrast two major rivers: Yangtze in China and St. Lawrence in Canada; to examine the interaction between human development and aquatic ecosystem and biodiversity. The Yangtze cradled Chinese civilization for over 5,000 years; The St. Lawrence played a significant role in colonization and industrialization of North American for the last few hundred years.
A True International Exchange
Since 2005, the course involves Canadian students from Ontario and BC universities, and Chinese students from Fudan U., Zhejiang U., Southwest U. and now Tongji U. and Beijing Normal U. also take part in the course. Each summer students spends two weeks in Canada based in QUBS to visit the surrounding areas and two weeks in China traveling the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze (over 2000 km). Chinese and Canadian students work in pairs to conduct fieldwork, write scientific reports, and contribute to a course blog. Each student gives a seminar presentation about the specific local environmental issues. Through discussion and hands-on experience students learn and witness local and international environmental issues by themselves and through classmates' eyes.
A Journey That Opens Students’ Minds
This course allows students to relate environment issues and situate biology within perspectives of human development and social-economic values. It also enables students to expand local environmental issues to global scale against the backdrop of history and culture of North America and China.
A Never Ending Learning Experience
Many course alumni have moved on to pursue careers and committed to life-long learning in environment and conservation related areas. Students consider this course to be a spring-board that allows them to learn and appreciate the world and life.