The interdisciplinary science of conservation biology provides undergraduate biology students with the opportunity to connect the biological sciences with disciplines including economics, social science and philosophy to address challenging conservation issues. Because of its complexity, students do not often have the opportunity to practise conservation biology. To increase exposure to this science, this paper describes a virtual rainforest island on which students collect data related to forest carbon storage, while also confronting ethical issues. Students are asked to independently make decisions, collect data and explore the island before writing a research report with recommendations for the future management of the island’s forests. The ethics of decision-making are addressed in the students’ research reports and are reinforced through guided class discussion. Students will complete this activity with increased ethical awareness, as well as a better understanding of the challenges associated with the practise of conservation biology.
Schedlbauer, J., Nadolny, L., & Woolfrey, J. (2016). Practicing conservation biology in a virtual rainforest world. Journal of Biological Education, 50(3), 320-328.