In most Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), participants engage in free learning experiences from the privacy of their computers. By contrast, a new UW-Madison MOOC encourages learners to get out of the house to hunt pheasant, butcher deer, and cook wild game.

“The Land Ethic Reclaimed: Perceptive Hunting, Aldo Leopold and Conservation” begins on January 26, 2015, focusing on the connection between hunting and conservation. Participants will learn about the role of wildlife in ecosystems and the legacy of Wisconsin ecologist Aldo Leopold, among other topics.

Like traditional MOOCs, “The Land Ethic Reclaimed” includes videos, discussion forums, and other online activities. Less traditional are the free events associated with the course, cohosted by the Aldo Leopold Foundation, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and UW-Madison. On Feb. 21 and 22, “From Hunt to Harvest” features a weekend of hunting, food, and conservation activities in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Paul A. Smith of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel applauds “The Land Ethic Reclaimed” for its focus on Leopold, whose book A Sand County Almanac is a sacred text to the environmental movement. “Perhaps more than any other American,” Smith writes, “Leopold is likely to bring together people of disparate viewpoints for a discussion of hunting and its role in 21st-century conservation.”

Aldo Leopold's shack in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Aldo Leopold’s shack in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

UW-Madison offered its first round of MOOCs in 2013 with topics of general interest. The courses had global reach, with 135,000 participants from 141 countries and all 50 states. “The Land Ethic Reclaimed” begins a second round of UW-Madison MOOCs that focus more closely on themes and events relevant to Wisconsin. Five of the six courses cover environmental topics, acknowledging Wisconsin’s role as a cradle of the conservation movement.

To sign up for a UW-Madison MOOC or to learn more, visit moocs.wisc.edu. Register for the free “From Hunt to Harvest” event here. For more information, contact Lika.Balenovich@wisc.edu, 608-890-2442.