Exciting New Course Spotlight
This August, the new How Insects Shape Society course was named one of the "ten courses that will blow your mind".
Insects and…ethics? Sure, why not? How Insects Shape Society: Pollinators, Pests, and Policy (ENT 1001) is a new course that explores the complex interactions people have with insects, and the profound effect insects have in shaping human society and culture. However, this course is designed to be more than just an introduction to insects in our lives. Designated as a Civic Life and Ethics liberal education theme course, it explores the ways in which insect activities, both positive and negative, create ethical choices in society. It presents topics that force you think about your actions and challenges you to support your decisions with information derived from reputable sources. As an example, it is fine that you buy foods with a non-GMO label on them, but that may also mean you are subsequently supporting increased use of insecticides to deal insect pests in agricultural systems. Increased insecticide use could then have unintended non-target consequences that threaten ecosystem services.
Insects influence society through their roles in agriculture, human and animal health, and ecosystem processes by forcing us to make choices relating to our food choices, vaccination practices, and home pesticide use. Insects make up more than half of the living organisms on this planet and play vital roles in ecosystem processes. Even so, insects are often swatted, stomped, squished, and otherwise misunderstood. Rather than telling students how to deal with insects, this course aims to teach them how to gather information that will help them make informed decisions and better understand the consequences of their actions. Ultimately, understanding the good and bad aspects of insects can help us better understand how their actions help shape our society.