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Winter 2023

Winter 2023 COURSE Schedule

Course Title Day/Time Instructor
ENVR_POL 212-0-20 Environment and Society MW 3:30pm-4:50pm Ewert, Rebecca
ENVR_POL 340-0-20 Global Environments and World History TTh 2pm-3:20pm Tilley, Helen
ENVR_POL 390-0-21 Ocean Law and Policy MW 11am-12:20pm Burns, William
ENVR_POL 390-0-23 Maple Syrup and Climate Change F 11am-1:50pm Suzukovich III, Eli
ENVR_POL 390-0-25 Climate Geoengineering MW 2pm-3:20pm Burns, William
ENVR_POL 390-0-29 Hazards, Disasters & Society MW 3:30pm-4:50pm Hoominfar, Elham
ENVR_POL 390-0-30 Art, Ecology, and Politics MW 12:30pm-1:50pm Zorach, Rebecca
ENVR_POL 390-0-31 Geography of Chicago and its Region TTh 12:30pm-1:50pm Hudson, John Crandall
ENVR_POL 390-0-32 Sociology of Consumption TTh 2pm-3:20pm Rodriguez-Caceres, Andres
ENVR_POL 390-0-33 African Archaeologies for the 21st Century TTh 12:30pm-1:50pm Logan, Amanda



ENVR_POL  212-0-20: Environment and Society

Our climate is rapidly changing. Rising sea levels and increasing ocean acidity, higher temperatures, more droughts, melting glaciers, wilder weather patterns, and mounting environmental disasters mean that climate change is increasingly visible in our daily lives. What role does human society play in these changes, and what consequences does society suffer as these changes occur? This course is an introduction to environmental sociology during which we will employ an intersectional, sociological perspective to look beyond the scientific basis for environmental problems to understand the social roots of environmental issues. We will cover a variety of topics in environmental sociology, including new directions in sustainable development and how actors such as corporations, the media, and social movements impact public opinion and environmental issues. Further, we will critically examine the gendered, racial, and socioeconomic production of disparate environmental risks.

ENVR_POL  340-0-20: Global Environments and World History

Environmental problems are today part and parcel of popular consciousness: resources are being depleted at a record pace, human population levels have crossed the seven billion threshold, extreme poverty defines the majority of people's daily lives, toxic contaminants affect all ecosystems, increasing numbers of species face extinction, consumerism and the commodification of nature show no signs of abating, and weapons and energy systems continue to proliferate that risk the planet's viability. This introductory lecture course is designed to help students understand the relatively recent origins of many of these problems, focusing especially on the last one hundred and fifty years. Students will have an opportunity to learn about the environmental effects of urbanization, industrialization, population growth, market economies, empire-building, intercontinental warfare, energy extraction, and new technologies. They will also explore different environmental philosophies and analytic frameworks that help us make sense of historical change, including political ecology, environmental history, science studies, and global history. Finally, the course will examine a range of transnational organizations, social movements, and state policies that have attempted to address and resolve environmental problems.

ENVR_POL  390-0-21: Ocean Law and Policy

The world's oceans, encompassing 70% of the world's area and 90% of its volume, are essential to life on Earth. However, they are increasingly imperiled by an array of anthropogenic stressors, including pollution, overexploitation of natural and non-living resources, and climate change. This class will focus on both the threats posed to ocean ecosystems, including impacts on marine living resources. The focus of the course will be on the role of international law, including treaties and customary international law, in addressing threats to the world's oceans. A large portion of the course will focus on the provisions of the so-called "constitution for the oceans," the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

ENVR_POL  390-0-23: Maple Syrup and Climate Change

As the earth's climate changes, maple trees and the maple syrup industry in the U.S. and Canada are being affected, in both good and bad ways. The class will cover these effects, their impact on Native American and non-Native communities, the maple syrup industry, and maple species themselves through articles and readings. Along with a focus on maple syrup production, we will cover aspects of food sovereignty happening across the United States, Canada, and other parts of the world. Examining how communities and countries are looking inward towards traditional economies and practices to adapt to a changing climate.  Through field observations of climatic and natural phenomena, students will work in groups to collect data from three maple species on campus. The groups will examine and record sugar ratios, sap flow rates, and ambient temperature and precipitation: along with a focus on species differentiation, soil nutrients, and campus micro-climates. The final product for the class would be a group data report. A copy of the report will go to facilities management to be added to their campus tree inventory.

ENVR_POL  390-0-25: 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  390-0-29: Hazards, Disasters & 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  390-0-30: Art, Ecology, and Politics

In a time of growing awareness of severe environmental crisis, how do artists (and how do we) make change while avoiding despair? This class focuses on ways artists and activists who are motivated by ecological concerns, but also by optimism about the difference they can make, have adapted artistic strategies to address environmental issues over the course of recent decades. Blurring the boundary between art and activism, or art and environmental remediation, they have taken up themes of sustainability and materiality, "collaborated" with natural processes, and addressed crises from industrial toxins to global warming. In this course we address key themes in environmental art, considering art, ecology, and politics in relation to issues that include gender, race, poverty, territory, and indigeneity. The course will unfold in conjunction with a performance and class visit by a Kaplan artist in residence and will also involve one or more field trips. Along with class participation and periodic short writing assignments, work will include group and individual final projects.

ENVR_POL  390-0-31: Geography of Chicago and its Region

Geography 312 devotes a full quarter to the geography of Chicago and the surrounding region. The "region" refers variously to the Midwest, the state of Illinois, Chicagoland, or just to Chicago and its suburbs. Introductory materials include the kinds of data that have been used to study and describe Chicago. Following that comes the necessary background on the changing physical environment of Chicago since the Pleistocene, including the step-by-step evolution of Lake Michigan. Human groups are traced from prehistory through the Native tribes that inhabited the region at the time of European contact. We will follow the record of land treaties, whereby the Native inhabitants lost their lands, which was followed by land subdivision and land grants made by the U.S. government around 1800. Chicago grows into a major industrial center during the 19th century which sees a series of shifts in population composition due to migration. The first part of the course ends with the Burnham Plan, which marks a turning point in Chicago history as a major city. The second part of the course traces the themes of 20th century Chicago geography, especially the role of the African American population and the continued arrival of new immigrant groups from Latin America and Asia. Contemporary problems, including racism, suburbanization, depopulation, and changing demographic and economic patterns are the final topics.

ENVR_POL  390-0-32: Sociology of Consumption

Why do we buy what we buy? Why do Americans live in big houses filled with stuff while Germans live in austere apartments? What does having a consumption-based economy mean for welfare, debt, and production? In this class we will explore different explanations for consumption patterns. After an exploration of different definitions of consumption, we will look into the topics of conspicuous consumption, consumption as meaning-making, and the implications of consumption in the political economy. We will finish by exploring the implications of consumption in our wider lives, inequality, and the environment.

ENVR_POL  390-0-33: African Archaeologies for the 21st Century

In this class, we will consider how information gleaned from archaeology in Africa can be used to address some of the main challenges of the 21st century, including decolonization, climate change, food security, and poverty. Rather than approaching Africa’s past in terms of chronological developments, we will critique the lenses through which the past has been viewed, as well as how historical inequalities have shaped the practice of archaeology in the continent. We will consider case studies from around the continent that examine ancient responses to climate change and poverty, and how they might inform present day challenges. We will also consider how movements to decolonize the study of Africa’s past chart a different future both within the continent and across the globe.