Sensory Ecology


Spring 2015 quarter

Taught by

music composition
biology, biochemistry

The sounds we make and hear help us to survive. Bird song is a beautiful case study in this aspect of sensory ecology—how our senses help us make sense of our environment and exist within a natural web populated by species that constantly interact. Students will be expected to identify dozens of birds by their songs and will hone these skills on field trips to bird sanctuaries across the state. We will become acquainted with bird anatomy and physiology, and compare and contrast the systems of sound production, perception and cognition of birds and humans. Learning to analyze sounds and critique pieces of music, we'll put together audio and video field recordings and rigorous scientific field notes, using and contributing to developing online resources in this field of study.

Science students may pursue projects in their fields, propose or contribute to related Science Carnival projects, or complete a senior capstone project within the program. Music students may also pursue and collaborate on such projects. They may build DIY field recording gear such as parabolic microphones, compose music inspired by bird song, create music theatre pieces dramatizing aspects of birdlife, adapt existing texts such as Aristophanes' play, "The Birds," or study the lives and works of composers and performers like those profiled in "The Book of Music and Nature."

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

biology, ecology, music, natural history.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Required Fees

$200 for field trips

Special Expenses

$50–$200 (optional) for materials for senior projects in science or music.


Date Revision
March 13th, 2014 This program has been cancelled.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Spring)

Class standing: Sophomore–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 50


Course Reference Number not yet available.

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