Penn State, Freiburg offer virtual course on pest and pollinator management

Jack Ouligian
October 22, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In February 2020, as part of a mutual effort to enhance a strategic partnership between the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg and Penn State that dates back to 1998, the two universities announced the selection of two joint proposals for novel online classroom projects.

One of these proposals has come to fruition this fall in the form of a public-facing, three-credit graduate course offered to students at Penn State and Freiburg University titled, “Global Perspectives in Integrated Pest and Pollinator Management.”

Integrated pest and pollinator management, or IPPM, refers to a set of practices that land managers can use to minimize inputs required to sustain a landscape, while also supporting pollinator populations. These practices minimize costs and labor associated with land management and prevent the overuse of synthetic chemicals and other tactics meant to suppress weeds, insect pests and pathogens.

At Penn State, the project is headed by Natalie Boyle, an assistant research professor of entomology in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

“We chose to develop this course to provide students in Freiburg and at Penn State an opportunity to explore how socioeconomic and environmental policies, spanning disparate cultures and countries, can restrict or enable the adoption of novel IPPM practices,” Boyle said.

Students and interested members of the public taking the course will learn more about substantial declines in insect biodiversity and abundance, which are especially concerning considering the crucial role that insects play in ecosystems. The format of the course addresses those issues.

“One important way to mitigate and reverse the losses we are observing is through an international discussion and exploration of new approaches and technologies that support agricultural production while conserving the health of nontarget insect species,” Boyle said.

“For this reason, we have invited scientists from all over the world to share their perspectives, philosophies and ambitions as they relate to improving insect conservation in urban, natural and agricultural settings.”

Boyle expressed excitement about the international collaboration between Penn State and University of Freiburg.

“I am really looking forward to having both our Freiburg and Penn State students engage in an extended dialogue with one another,” she said. “Not only will we have an opportunity to learn from some of the world's experts on insect conservation and IPPM, but we also have a chance to collaborate with a trans-Atlantic cohort of students whose perspectives may vary from our own.”

The virtual seminars, which are open to the public, can be viewed by accessing this Zoom link. Seminar sessions typically will be held from 11 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays during the fall semester and on Tuesdays during the spring semester.

The full schedule for the seminars is available on the Center for Pollinator Research events page, where recordings will also be posted.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated October 22, 2020