Course code:



I - Introductory

Class size limit:


Typically offered:


This course is an experiment in seeing ecology through arts practice, with a focus on the tropical rainforest of Costa Rica. It is part of a three-credit expeditionary program in neotropical field ecology and conservation. We will examine how an arts approach (observation, rendering, questioning, hypothesising) leads to reflective practice on ecological process and interaction; how observing pattern can lead us to questioning and understanding process; and how sensory immersion and visualising connectivity lets us see complex interactions.

The course content will interact daily with two other courses as part of a three-credit expeditionary program in neotropical field ecology and conservation. Creative descriptions of the vastly different habitats at divergent field sites will feed into discussions of natural history, ecology and biology, with daily questions for science discussions drawn from arts-facilitated observation.

Evaluation will be based on three components: (1) student interaction with assigned readings and discussion of them (both written and oral); (2) an artist’s notebook (combined sketchbook and journal) which will serve to document a student’s process of inquiry including observation and description of place (at both micro and macro level) and daily “questions for science” derived from arts-based inquiry. As a reflective journal, it will also critically examine one’s expectations, intentions, and observations of process and outcome. (3) A final project that will consolidate/montage a particular vein of observation and questioning from the student’s observation of interactions of place (e.g. an aspect of ecology, environmental physiology or human ecology). The final project will be designed to be sharable with an outside audience. No arts experience or skill is necessary. In addition to sketching, other creative methods of observation will be used such as rubbings, and various simple printmaking techniques such as monoprint, and both relief and gelatine plates, as well as words (e.g. poetry) and found materials (that are acceptable for re-entry through US customs!).


Co-enrollment in ES2035 Intro to Tropical Field Ecology and ES1069 Collaborative Conservation Practices on the Osa Peninsula, and permission of instructor.

Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.