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Online Course

Sheep in the Land of Fire and Ice

University of Iceland via edX

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Overview

Land use without adequate management can drive environmental degradation. Grazing management is an example of such land use and represents a common problem in many regions of the world. The aim of this short course is to raise awareness of the environmental risks associated with unsustainable management of natural resources. This course uses Iceland as a case study because here traditional sheep grazing has been associated with extensive environmental degradation. We examine the sustainability of sheep grazing in Iceland and explore how history, socioeconomic factors and environmental conditions have influenced the management of grazing resources. The development of sustainable management practices needs to take into account ecological, as well as economic and social aspects. We can devise general rules and guiding principles for management based on our current understanding of the socio-ecological systems, but fine-tuning of specific management decisions, for example regarding stocking rates or the duration of the grazing season will have to be site-specific. A better understanding of the consequences of these practices and how their ecological impacts vary under different environmental conditions will improve management decisions and increase the sustainability of management practices in the face of ongoing environmental changes.

Syllabus

PART 1. COURSE INTRODUCTION
PART 2. SHEEP GRAZING IN THE NORTH
2.1 Sheep grazing in the North
2.2 Sheep grazing in Iceland
2.3 Sheep grazing can lead to soil erosion
PART 3. HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE OF SHEEP GRAZING IN ICELAND
3.1 Iceland before sheep
3.2 Modelling the ecosystem
3.3 Then, sheep arrived
3.4 Efforts to mitigate environmental degradation
PART 4. THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE OF SHEEP GRAZING IN ICELAND
4.1 Sheep in Iceland today
4.2 Current efforts in ecological research
4.3 Sustainable sheep grazing?
PART 5. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

Taught by

Isabel C Barrio, David S Hik, Ingibjörg Svala Jónsdóttir, Ólafur Arnalds, Egill Erlendsson, Þórunn Pétursdóttir, Jóhann Þórisson, Björn Helgi Barkarsson, Bryndís Marteinsdóttir, Tara Mulloy, Unnsteinn Snorri Snorrason and Anja Mager

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Reviews for edX's Sheep in the Land of Fire and Ice Based on 19 reviews

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  • 4 star 5%
  • 3 star 0%
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  • 1
Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
I found this course, which I took because of an interest in Iceland in general, and having a vet student daughter who is doing lambing as we speak, really interesting. It posed questions that I had not considered, and educated me on efforts towards sustainable management. There was a fascinating unpacking...
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Pat B
by Pat completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very easy.
It sounded quirky enough to be interesting and I'm glad I took this short course!

It covers a surprising range of material: history, ecology, geology, farming practices, government policies, and sustainability.
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
Awesome little course, very informative, a lot of surprising information on iceland and its ecosystem, influenced by sheep grazing. highly recommended!
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
The course both from the perspective of ground level ecology, no pun intended, the effects of the invasive species, Homo sapiens, on Iceland, and from the perspective of general conceptual application could not have been better. I found the presenters deeply committed to their specific sciences and the application of those sciences to the sustainability of sheep farming in Iceland. Further, the individual lessons were of a more than palatable size, and the connection between lessons and their integration into a holistic understanding of the problems of sustainability in general superb. Enough said other than, WELL DONE!
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Martin G
Martin completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.
Great course! I take this course to learn something about sheep systems in iceland, as i am studying (near to complete it) a degree in agronomic Engineering, in University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. i found it really interesting, easy to complete, good organized and can be done by anyone. Good case of study where i reinforce some theoretical knowledge aplied to a real case. Like i have previous knowledge it cost my less than expected to end it.
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
This course was short, but extremely accessible and informative. I have no particular ties to sheep grazing or Iceland, but as someone interested in land management in general, I found the content to be thought-provoking and interesting. I see it as a case study for how farming and land use can affect local ecosystems, and I think the biggest takeaways are applicable in many different contexts.
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
I found Iceland to be an ideal case study of a subject that I am interested in.

It is fascinating that the history of human settlement in Iceland commences in the ninth century. As a native of the UK, quite a short period compared to the history of human settlement where I live.

The discussion between the participants from around the world enhanced the learning experience.

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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
I took this course as a break from the other work I was doing, and as a chance to learn about something I've never had to think about before. I thought it was a very nice course, and the information was very easy to keep track of and was presented in a way I (a Computer Science major from the suburbs of the USA) could understand on a base level.
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
This was a great course which provides an excellent overview of the ecological challenges related to sheep farming in Iceland. The course was very well designed, and I loved the short videos that were put together. I actually was so captivated and interested in the subject, that I finished it in one day :-). Thank you!
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
I enjoyed this course immensely! I have recently gotten interested in Environmental Science, and dream of going to Iceland to study it. This course gave me a great window into some of the specific aspects of Iceland's environment and ecology, and the course was specific, engaging, and informative.
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
This class was very informative and fun. I really enjoyed learning about the Icelandic government's programs to reduce the environmental impact that sheep farming can have. I hope similar programs can be applied all over the world to help prevent further climate change!
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
Extremely clear. Very well planned in the order of the topics. Very nice to put pictures and videos in the back of the instructors during the lessons. Wonderful to keep the same relaxing music for all the course! Annalisa from Rome.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
Very interesting course! Although the subject is Iceland... the basic premise is applicable to all areas of the world. I recommend this course to anyone interested in the human/ environmental dynamic
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
I really enjoyed this course. It was very accessible without being too simplist. It provided clear information and a lot of expert opinions. Very nice introductory course for that kind of environmental issues!
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Szabolcs S
Szabolcs completed this course.
This is a lovely short course. It won't last longer than 2 or 3 hours, really. I loved the way they combined the different tools during the course. I liked the embedded Q&A section the most.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
This is a lovely short course. It won't last longer than 2 or 3 hours, really. I loved the way they combined the different tools during the course. I liked the embedded Q&A section the most.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
Good quality, good speaking, giving a clear overview of the way that sheep grazing is related to environmental, cultural as well as economic factors.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
I really enjoyed this course. I think it's valuable information wherever you live pertaining to sustainability. I learned a lot from this short course.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
Interesting short course introducing the complexities of managing sheep grazing in Iceland. Suitable for any level of knowledge about agriculture.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
  • 1

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