Syllabus - Winter 2018


Benoit Cushman-Roisin
134 Cummings
Telephone: 1-603-646-9075

Teaching Assistants

Michael Baicker, Danielle Castley, and Holly Patterson

Administrative Assistant

Marge Heggison, 128 Cummings

Course Description

(revised October 2017)

Natural resources sustain human productivity. Principles of scientific resource management are developed, including mathematical model development based on material balances and decision making based on dynamical and stochastic systems. Three generic categories of resource are analyzed: exhaustible, living, and renewable. In the first category we emphasize the life-cycle of exploitation including exhaustion, exploration and substitution. In the living category we explore population dynamics under natural and harvested regimes, for fisheries, fowl and forests. The renewable case of water is treated in terms of quantity and quality. Finally, air quality management is considered through the lens of assimilative capacity. Throughout, the intersection of natural processes and economic incentives is explored with dynamical systems theory, computer simulations, and optimization techniques. Case studies illustrate contemporary management problems and practices.

Prerequisites: MATH 23 (Differential Equations) or ENGS 22 (Systems), and ENGS 37 (Introduction to Environmental Engineering)
Distributive designation: TAS (Technology and Applied Science)

Textbook (required)

Sustainable Natural Resource Management for Scientists and Engineers
by Daniel R. Lynch, Cambridge University Press , 2009, 230 pages ($50 hardcover, less for digital or used).

Other Textbook (at the student's discretion)

Decision Making in Natural Resource Management
by Michael J. Conroy & James T. Peterson, Wiley-Blackwell, 2013, 456 pages ($105 hardcover, $64 paperback).

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, students should be able to
  1. Develop competence in quantitative analysis of natural resource systems;
  2. Integrate natural and economic factors in resource management;
  3. Distinguish between techno-scientific and value-laden aspects of a problem;
  4. Conceive and develop a predictive mathematical model based on material balances;
  5. Develop models of living and sterile resources to simulate harvesting and production scenarios;
  6. Integrate multiple needs in a single water resource model;
  7. Use linear programming to solve problems with multiple constraints;
  8. Develop and use stochastic models;
  9. Identify alternative management options.

Course Format


Student Readings and Presentations

Students will form pairs, each pair will meet with the instructor at least once to select a set of readings based on the students' personal interests and to plan for the in-class presentation by the two students.

Presentations by students to the class will be scheduled throughout the second half of the term and will last approximately 30 minutes each.

Academic Honor Principle

As always, students are expected to observe all aspects of the Academic Honor Principle. In this course, collaboration among students is allowed for problem sets, although students have to turn in their individual answers. No collaboration whatsoever is allowed during the mid-term and final examinations. During those assignments, questions can only be directed to the instructor or the TAs.

Dartmouth College policy requires that any apparent violation of the Academic Honor Principle be reported to the Committee on Standards. Professors do not have another choice, regardless of how they may feel.

Note on use of personal electronics in class

Use of laptop computers, cell phones or other personal electronics is forbidden during class. This is to avoid distractions. Multi-tasking has been shown to be detrimental to learning. The only granted exceptions are to students with documented writing disabilities who need a computer for note taking, and to students who take note on behalf of other students.

Note on email communications

Email communications with the instructor are most welcome at any time as long as they deal with questions on the materials taught in class or absences from class. Students are asked to refrain from using email to set up appointments. To see Prof. Cushman-Roisin, students are encouraged to drop by his office (134 Cummings). Any time is a good time when the professor is in, and there are no stupid questions.

Note to students with disabilities

Students with any type of disability are encouraged to contact the instructor to discuss their needs and what accommodations are necessary. Such contact should be made at the beginning of the term or, in the case of a new condition, as soon as it occurs.

The professor is mindful that Winter Term regrettably coincides with ski injury season.

Note on respect of religious holidays

Students who have a religious observance that conflicts with participation in the course and who wish to take part in this religious observance should meet with the instructor before the end of the second week of the term to discuss appropriate accommodations.