Posted by: Adam Kay | February 5, 2013

Wanted: UST Biology students to study the Ecology and Culture of Korea

Ecology Gangham style? Well, not quite. But this June UST Biology’s Hangkyo Lim and Tony Lewno will be leading a course that will travel around Korea to learn about the culture and ecology of this biologically diverse area. The course will provide upper-division Biology elective credit. Tuition will be similar to on-campus credit costs. There are only a few slots still available, so contact Hangkyo (lim94497@stthomas.edu) or Tony (awlewno@stthomas.edu) right away if you’re interested. The course is also open to students from other ACTC schools. A full description of the course is below.

BIOL 398: Topics in Ecology and Culture of Korea

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Hangkyo at Haeinsa Temple

This course is designed  to help students learn about the biology and culture across the diverse environmental conditions of Korea.  The ecological variety and cultural heritage found on the Korean peninsula are ideally suited to serve the course objectives: 1) the peninsula exhibits a wide range of diverse Northeastern Asian ecosystems, which are not well represented in ecological studies, 2) the Korean peninsula has been populated for longer than 25,000 years and has a well-preserved historical and cultural heritage, and 3) the country is one of the fastest developing countries in Northeast Asia, which provides ample opportunities for studying human impacts on and interactions with ecological systems. Many Korean instructors and their students will support and participate in the program both logistically and intellectually thanks to the connections of the program director.

As an elective Biology course, participating students will learn principles and techniques of Field Ecology under the guidance of Korean instructors and with Korean students.  Students will participate in a field experiment designed to understand the behavioral ecology and conservation of an endangered anuran species.  In another project, the distribution and diversity of the invertebrate and vertebrate fauna will be surveyed and analyzed in the tidal flat zone, brackish water, sandy shallows, and volcanic islands to understand the relationship between the species composition and the diverse oceanic environments.  Students will also study mountain flora to assess the indigenous plant diversity across climatic conditions at varying altitudes.  Each student will have the opportunity to execute the scientific inquiry from making independent hypotheses to data collection and analyses to the result presentation.  Local Korean experts will guide and supervise the activities in the field sites and their students will also collaborate in the entire process.

The Republic of Korea (the southern half of the peninsula, whose approximate coordinates range similarly from northern Georgia to southern Michigan) is situated west of Japan and alongside the northeastern provinces of China (Manchuria).  The country measures approximately 100,000 km2 (38,000 mi2 ≈ half of Minnesota) and is bordered by the East Sea, the Korea Strait (south), and the Yellow Sea (west). The highly indented coast line (with 4,000 islands) expands 8,640 km (5,400 mi) along the three seas, and the inland water body covers 290 km2 (110 mi2).  More than 70% of the peninsula is mountainous (the highest point: 1,950 m, Hallasan Mt.) and contains both deciduous and coniferous forests.  The relatively small area with diverse aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems of the country will provide the students with ample opportunities and field sites to visit and explore.

This abundance of diverse ecosystems and cultural heritage sites can be easily accessible, providing sites rich in opportunities to study and experience the interactions between the environment and human populations of the Northeastern Asian tradition.  The students will meet and actively interact with the local experts and their students affiliated in three different universities, which will facilitate their understandings of the nature and culture under a very safe and friendly circumstance.

The slide show has some of the natural and historic sites the course will visit:

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