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edX

Salmon, People, and Place

University of Alaska Fairbanks via edX

Overview

No wild animal has more profoundly influenced the cultures and well-being of societies in North America than salmon. Salmon and people have been entwined in a relationship for millennia. This six-week course is an exploration and celebration of this relationship, as well as an examination of the current major issues, including habitat alterations, climate change, and management actions currently straining the relationship between salmon and salmon-dependent people. We will put significant emphasis on learning about salmon and people in Alaska, a place containing the last stronghold of pristine salmon ecosystems anywhere.

Students should expect to read, discuss online, and host and facilitate dialogues in their own communities, using their newfound knowledge beyond our virtual classroom. Together we will examine how the biology of salmon roots them in place and in turn serves to shape human societies and ecosystems.

We will learn from Indigenous elders and youth and understand the system of local management that has sustained salmon for generations. Students will compare and contrast traditional Indigenous management with current practices that are focused on maximizing yield, and will learn concepts such as spawner-recruit analysis and escapement goals.

This course is ideal for those interested in careers in natural resource management and will be of interest to anyone with a love for the natural wild world. By the completion of the course students will be informed and empowered to confront the challenges facing the relationships between salmon and salmon-dependent societies in the 21st century.

Syllabus

Week 1: Our Salmon Connections

An exploration of what salmon mean to you and an opportunity to learn about the relationship of salmon to others in the course and beyond.

Week 2: Indigenous Deep Time Ties

Introduction to traditional Native ties to salmon, including the foundations of sustainable management grounded in the concepts of permission and consent. We will be guided by our Elders in this journey.

Week 3: Western Fishery Management

A survey of the key concepts underpinning current management of salmon, including spawner-recruit analysis, fixed-escapement policies, and the problem of forecasting.

Week 4: Sport and Commercial Fisheries

Learn about those that live to fish and fish to live and the routine tensions that can arise among different user groups.

Week 5: The Four H’s and Climate Change

Did you know that the demise of salmon throughout much of the world are linked to the same four causes? We will learn about these causes and discuss the mounting challenge of climate change and global warming facing salmon populations.

Week 6: The Future of Salmon and People

Prediction is difficult, especially about the future. In the final week we look forward to what might be in store for salmon and salmon-dependent societies. Will the choices we make be full of humility or hubris?

Taught by

Peter Westley

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