Welcome to the Biol 510 webpage. The 2016 version of this course is entitled:

Biogeochemistry, Buddhism, and Global Change


Seminar Questions: Guidelines, and Good Examples


Seminar Guidelines


Previous versions of this course

This ecology course will examine the underlying causes of global change issues at levels ranging from biogeochemical processes through to human behaviour. The aim of the course is to develop students' perspectives on the relationship between ecology and the sustainability of our current civilisation. Students will lead informal seminar discussions on some component of this theme that is of particular interest to them.
This course is for final year undergraduates and is specifically aimed at enhancing their capacities for critical thinking, intelligent open discussion, group work, and independent learning. By the end of the course, students should be able to critique the potential for Buddhist philosophical perspectives to help our society in addressing global change issues.

Initial sessions will provide an overview of the Earth’s major global change issues, the underlying biogeochemistry, and various Buddhist philosophical perspectives on our civilisation’s predicament. The principal questions that this course will address are:
How might Buddhist perspectives be useful in addressing global change issues?
Could the concept of mindfulness be useful in promoting sustainable ecological behaviour?


Learning outcomes
By the end of the course the student should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of several major global change issues that integrates ecological, economic and social perspectives
  2. Critically assess the constraints (ecological, economic, social, behavioural and political) that underly society’s responses to global change issues 
  3. Discuss and evaluate how human biology, biogeochemistry and global change can be linked through Buddhist philosophical perspectives
  4. Search, critically assess, and synthesize primary and secondary literature in the natural and social sciences
  5. Work in a group to promote mindful awareness as a means to initiate social action on a chosen global change issue
  6. Develop and present cohesive, original syntheses on the potential of mindfulness and other Buddhist philosophical perspectives to influence the future sustainability of our civilisation


Paul Grogan
E-mail: groganp@queensu.ca
Office: Room 2508. Tel. (613) 533 6152. Fax: (613) 533 6617
Lab: Rooms 2605, 2606. Tel. (613) 533 6000 ext. 78101
Lab web page: Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology lab page


Seminar times: Mondays 10.00; Wednesdays 08.30
Location: Room 3110, Biosciences building


Queen’s Biology Department: http://biology.queensu.ca/
Queen’s main page: http://www.queensu.ca/

Sessions are 1.5 hours


15% Active participation in discussions (questions, comments, suggestions)
15% Seminar written questions
10% Seminar
30% Group projects
30% Essay

Preliminary schedule:

Week beginning Day and time Convenor Topic Reading
4th January Monday 10.00
No lecture  


11th January Monday 10.00

How ought we to live?

Paul’s talk: How ought we to live?- Human behaviour is the ultimate sustainability issue

Williams et al, 2011. Mindfulness. Chapter 5. Waking Up to the Autopilot.


Paul How ought we to live? (continued) Paul’s talk: How ought we to live?- Human behaviour is the ultimate sustainability issue
18th January Monday 10.00 Paul Why is the Anthropocene concept so fundamentally important to mindful living and our future sustainability?

Steffen et al, 2011. The Anthropocene: From Global change to Planetary Stewardship. Ambio 40:739-761.



Haley Roher and Claire Boileau

How do we know we are entering a global state-shift and how do we prevent this from occurring?

Barnosky et al, 2012. Approaching a state shift in the Earth’s biosphere. Nature 486:52-58.

25th January Monday 10.00 Jackie Weber and Leah Hayes

Might the "cultural mosaic" society of Canada be the ideal place to develop solutions to our global sustainability crisis that could have a truly GLOBAL impact?

Bradshaw et al, 2014. Human population reduction is not a quick fix for environmental problems. PNAS 111(46):16610-16615.



Olivia Weller and Delaney Jacobs Assuming we can develop technological solutions, how do we combine them with the necessary behavioural changes to create a sustainable future?

Fischer et al, 2012. Human behaviour and sustainability. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 10: 153-160.

1st February Monday 10.00 Jessica Ruprecht and Marissa Lusito

Since we know our genetic drives are the problem, how can cultural evolution lead to a global solution?

Aarssen. 2015. What are we?  Exploring the evolutionary roots of our future. Chapter 12 – Becoming the solution.



Sierra Martin and Julia Yeung

How can Buddhist philosophy initiate internal (personal) change to the extent that it initiates external (social) change?

Barash. 2013. Buddhist Biology. Chapter 1. A Science Sutra.

8th February Monday 10.00 Kira McKillop and Hanna Bradshaw  

Barash. 2013. Buddhist Biology. Chapter 7. Meaning (Existential Bio-Buddhism?).



Kyrstin Coughlin and John MacKinnon  

Ericson et al, 2015. Mindfulness and sustainability. Ecological Economics 104:73-79.

15th February Monday 10.00   No lecture - Reading week

Reading week. Thich Nhat Hanh – Peace is every step



  No lecture - Reading week

Reading week. Thich Nhat Hanh – Peace is every step

22nd February Monday 10.00    




29th February Monday 10.00   No class  


7th March Monday 10.00      


14th March Monday 10.00      


21st March Monday 10.00      


28th March Monday 10.00   No class  


Paul Synthesis  



Last Updated: 1 February 2016