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Spring 2024

Course Schedule

Course Title Day/Time Instructor Category
ENVR_POL 101-8-1 First Year Writing Seminar MW 11-12:20 Melissa Rosenzweig
ENVR_POL 337-0-1 Hazard, Disaster and Society T 11-1:50 Elham Hoominfar Core
ENVR_POL 383-0-1 Environmental Anthropology TTh 11-12:20 Melissa Rosenzweig Core
ENVR_POL 390-0-20 Human Rights and the Environment T 9am-11:50am Kim Suiseeya Core
ENVR_POL 390-0-21 Introduction to Ethnobiology Theory and Practice MW 2-3:20 Eli Suzukovich Core
ENVR_POL 390-0-22 Natural Disasters  TTh 12:30-1:50 Nicolette Bruner Elective
ENVR_POL 390-0-23 International Wildlife Law and Policy MW 11-12:20 Wil Burns Core
ENVR_POL 390-0-24 Climate Geoengineering MW 12:30-1:50 Wil Burns Core
ENVR_POL 390-0-25 Environmental Justice in Modern South Asia TTh 9:30-10:50 Chandana Anusha Elective
ENVR_POL 390-0-26 Red Power: Indigenous Resistance in the US and Canada TTh 9:30-10:50 Doug Kiel Elective
ENVR_POL 390-0-27 Water in Arid Lands: Technology & Innovation in the Middle East W 4-6:50 Elie Rekhess & Aaron Packman Elective
ENVR_POL 390-0-28 Environmental Issues in the Middle East and North Africa TTh 2-3:20 Lauren Baker Elective
ART_HIST 390 Black Feminist Ecocritical Art Histories TTh 3:30pm-4:50pm Krista Thompson Elective
BIOL SCI 103 Diversity of Life MWF 3pm-3:50pm Gary Galbreath Natural Science
BIOL SCI 336 Spring Flora M 10am-10:50am Katherine Wenzell Natural Science
CIV ENV 203 Earth in the Anthropocene MWF 12pm-12:50pm Neal Blair Natural Science
CIV ENV 308 Environmental Justice F 4pm-6:50pm Keith Harley Ethics
EARTH 101 Earth Science for the 21st Century TTh 11am-12:20pm Steven Jacobsen Natural Science
EARTH 201 Earth Systems Revealed MWF 12pm-12:50pm Bradley Sageman Natural Science
ECON 373 Natural Resource Economics TTh 11am-12:20pm Mark Witte Methods
ENGLISH 374 Indigenous Protest Literature TTh 11am-12:20pm Kelly Wisecup Elective
ENGLISH 378 The Chicago Way: Urban Spaces and American Value TTh 3:30-4:50 Bill Savage Elective
ENVR SCI 203 Humans and the Environment TTh 2pm-3:20pm Patricia Beddows Natural Science
ENVR SCI 390 R Data Science T 2pm-3:50pm Elsa Anderson Methods
ENVR SCI 390 Urban Ecology TTh 11am-12:20pm Elsa Anderson Methods
GEOG 313 North America MWF 1pm-1:50pm John Hudson Elective
GLB HLTH 318 Community-Based Participatory Research T 2pm-4:50pm Beatriz Reyes Methods
HIST 393 The Supranatural in SE Asia TTh 3:30pm-4:50pm Haydon Cherry Elective
HUM 370-6-50/PERF_ST 330-0-30 Disturbance, Disaster, Perspectives on Abrupt Change Th 2pm-4:50pm Gregory Manuel Elective
ISEN 230/PHIL 270 Climate Change and Sustainability: Ethical Dimensions TTh 2pm-3:20pm Chad Horne Ethics
RTVF 360 Writing Climate Change T 12pm-2:50pm Kristin Idaszak Elective

Course Descriptions

ENVR_POL 101-8-1: First Year Writing Seminar

The concept of environmental justice in the United States emerged in the early 1980s as Black residents fought hazardous waste sites planned in and around their communities. Since then, the environmental justice perspective has been expanded to include the struggles of other minority groups disenfranchised on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, or class.  In the first part of the course, students will learn about the history of the environmental justice movement in the US and its development. Next, the course will take a closer look at environmental justice in Chicago, both past and present. As a final project, students will be tasked with researching an environmental justice organization in the Chicago area. 

ENVR_POL 337-0-1: Hazard, Disaster and Society

This course examines how socioeconomic and environmental factors work together to cause hazards and disasters in human society. In this course we learn the main concepts about disaster such as preparedness, vulnerability, resilience, response, mitigation, etc. We learn that a disaster does not have the same effect on everyone (all groups of people), and factors of social inequality such as race, ethnicity, class, and gender, make people more vulnerable to impacts of disasters. Also, this course, with an interdisciplinary perspective, analyzes disasters in the global North and South. This is a discussion-intensive course for advanced undergrad students. The classes are the student-centered with an emphasis on collaborative learning. The class meetings will consist of lecture, discussion, presentations, teamwork, activities, video/audio materials and projects.

ENVR_POL 383-0-1: Environmental Anthropology

Environmental anthropology is a more recent outgrowth of ecological anthropology, which emerged in the 1960s and 70s as a quantitative focus on systemic human-environment relationships, especially as they pertain to patterns of social change and adaptation. Environmental anthropology became more prominent in the 1980s, and is typically characterized by qualitative research on communities' engagements with contemporary environmental issues. Environmental anthropology has greater commitments to advocacy, critique, and application than ecological anthropology, but as we'll see in this course, the proliferation of "new ecologies" (as opposed to "new environmentalisms") denotes the continued synergy between ecological and environmental anthropologies.

ENVR_POL 390-0-20: Human Rights and the Environment

In 2022, the United Nations declared that everyone on the planet has a right to a healthy environment. Yet, our word faces a multitude of complex, intractable challenges: climate change, biodiversity loss, desertification, and extreme poverty, to name a few. In this research seminar, we will explore the confluence of human rights, Indigenous rights, and environmental change to explore how contemporary global, international, and domestic politics intertwine to shape our collective futures. We will study how different rights regimes, such as human rights, Indigenous rights, and the rights of nature have emerged, examine what impact they have on our environment, and consider the extent to which these global rights are realized. This course is divided into two parts, the first focusing on understanding the relationships between human rights, Indigenous rights, and the environment and the second on analyzing politics. Course requirements include active participation, short writing assignments, and an original research paper.

ENVR_POL 390-0-21: Introduction to Ethnobiology Theory and Practice

This class is an introduction to the growing field of Ethnobiology which is the scientific study of dynamic relationships among peoples, biota, and environments. As a multidisciplinary field, ethnobiology integrates anthropology, geography, systematics, population biology, ecology, mathematical biology, pharmacology, conservation, and sustainable development. This class will cover the origins and evolution of ethnobiology theory and practice ranging from folk science, polymaths, taxonomic and colonial practices, the rise of Indigenous science methods, and the contemporary focus on creating networks among researchers of various disciplines to face the challenges of rapid ecological change and shifting political economies.

ENVR_POL 390-0-22: Natural Disasters

From earthquakes to hurricanes, fires to floods, we tend to think of natural disasters as spontaneous occurrences. The word disaster originates in the idea of being born under an unlucky constellation or struck down by an uncaring universe. When homes are flooded or crops are destroyed, we see the natural world encroaching on lives and livelihoods in seemingly unpredictable and certainly unwanted ways. But are these disasters truly a product of nature?

In this class, we will engage with the complex history of natural disasters: how people experience and rationalize these events, how communities respond to them, and how the causes of disaster are explained by various stakeholders, from victims to insurance companies. By the end of the quarter, students will have developed historical, cultural, and theoretical tools for understanding the nature of the natural disaster.

ENVR_POL 390-0-23: International Wildlife Law and Policy

International Wildlife Law & Policy" Many scientists and policymakers believe that we are on the cusp of the world's sixth great extinction spasm, driven almost entirely by anthropogenic factors, including habitat destruction, unsustainable trade, the introduction of invasive species, and the looming specter of climate change. This course explores the role of international law in addressing the biodiversity crisis and efforts to protect wildlife species. An ancillary objective is to provide students with a foundation in international law, including skills in analyzing treaty provisions.

ENVR_POL 390-0-24: Climate Geoengineering

Climate change is the keystone environmental issue of this generation, and most likely for many generations to come. While the world community and individual countries have formulated policies to address climate change, these policies are almost universally recognized as being wholly inadequate to effectuate the objective of the Paris Agreement to hold global temperatures to well below 2ºC above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit increases to 1.5ºC. Indeed, it has become increasingly obvious that achievement of Paris temperature objectives will require both aggressive emission reduction initiatives and large-scale deployment of carbon dioxide removal/negative emissions technologies and processes (CDR), sometimes also referred to as a major sub-category of climate geoengineering. Moreover, many believe that we will also need to deploy solar radiation management approaches, which seek to reduce the amount of incoming solar radiation, to buy us time as we decarbonize the world economy.

This course will discuss the exigency of deploying SRM and CDR approaches at scale, including potential benefits and risks of these options. It also will discuss regulatory and governance considerations at both the national and international level, as well as strategies to incentivize large-scale adoption of these approaches.

ENVR_POL 390-0-25: Environmental Justice in Modern South Asia

Environmental Justice in Modern South Asia is an undergraduate class on the unequal experiences and effects of environmental change in South Asia, drawing primarily on case studies from India. Since at least the early 1990s, rapid economic growth, massive infrastructural projects, democratic transformations and global threats of climate change, have characterized the South Asian region. Such political, economic, and ecological processes come together to worsen the lives and livelihoods of marginalized people typically. They tend to intensify their vulnerability to environmental degradation, with historical structures of inclusion and exclusion profoundly shaping how natural resources are accessed and distributed. While the regional focus is on South Asia, at the heart of this course is a broader concern that environmental questions are always questions of equality and social justice.

The class will examine how issues of justice and nature are framed within law and official policy debates, within social movements and right-based struggles, as well as within people's moral imaginations and everyday lives. The following questions will guide the class:

ENVR_POL 390-0-26: Red Power: Indigenous Resistance in the US and Canada

In 2016, thousands of Indigenous water protectors and their non-Native allies camped at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in an effort to block the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. That movement is part of a long history of Native activism. In this course, we will examine the individual and collective ways in which Indigenous people have resisted colonial domination in the U.S. and Canada since 1887. In addition to focusing on North America, we will also turn our attention to Hawai‘i. This course will emphasize environmental justice, and highlights religious movements, inter-tribal organizations, key intellectual figures, student movements, armed standoffs, non-violent protest, and a variety of visions for Indigenous community self-determination.

ENVR_POL 390-0-27: Water in Arid Lands: Technology & Innovation in the Middle East

This seminar will explore how water availability shapes the development of civilizations and drives innovation in water technologies. The course will investigate historical dimensions of water in drylands in the Middle East, starting from ancient civilizations and the water infrastructures that were essential to the development of societies in arid regions. We will use this historical context as a stepping-stone to understand the more recent history of the Middle East, focusing on challenges faced by states in the Jordan River Basin. We will then examine efforts to develop the water resources needed to support burgeoning populations, such as irrigation projects designed to convert barren desert into cultivated agriculture. This more recent history includes geopolitical conflicts over land and water that continue to this day. We will evaluate regional water resources in the context of current and future climate and geopolitical conflicts, review recent advances in water technologies spurred by these limitations, and explore potential social and technological solutions for long-term water sustainability in the Middle East. We will discuss how water access and control contributes to trans-boundary politics and tensions between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the west Bank and Gaza, along with collaborative solutions developed between Israel and Jordan. Finally, we will discuss opportunities for global translation of innovative water technologies and water-management solutions. Start-up culture and innovation in water technologies for local use, notably in Israel and more recently in other nations of the Middle East, serve as a model for improving water supply in other arid regions. The course will host a symposium on water innovation, featuring national and international experts on water technology, policy, and commercialization.

ENVR_POL 390-0-28: Environmental Issues in the Middle East and North Africa

Extreme weather events, polluted air and waterways, dwindling biodiversity – environmental issues make up the most pressing existential threats to our global future. How do states respond to environmental challenges, including those that cross borders? How do people living in precarious environmental conditions make sense of their world and organize for change?  Focusing on states in the Middle East and North Africa, this course will offer an introduction to key concepts in environmental politics, including common but differentiated responsibility, globalization, and environmental justice. We will begin by interrogating what is meant by the terms “environmental” and “Middle East” and who has the power to make and challenge these definitions. Each subsequent week will focus on one environmental issue in the region, such as water, waste, informality, climate change, war, biodiversity, and environmental justice – as cases through which to explore different facets of environmental politics. The course aims to provide students both a strong empirical foundation in the historical background and sociopolitical reality of several main environmental challenges as well as analytical and methodological tools to critically assess contemporary environmental policies and proposed solutions.