Spring 2022

ENGL 158/STSC 118

Peter Tarr

Tuesdays 1:45-4:45pm

Advanced Journalistic Writing: Science, Technology, Society with Peter Tarr

Millions of Americans are science-illiterate; a growing number are "science-deniers." This state of affairs was brought to light as never before in the uneven response to expert advice during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is much confusion about science and technology as reported in the press. Are GMOs dangerous? Does climate change pose a threat we need to act upon now? Should biologists be permitted to “edit” germline cells? Is data privacy something we should no longer expect? This workshop is for students interested in using popular science writing to broaden public understanding of such questions. The premise is that good sci-tech writing should help the public assess the role of science in society. Each student will produce 4 polished pieces of writing (3 fact-based op-eds of 750 words + a scientist-profile of 1500-2000 words) about scientists and sci-tech subject matter, based on a range of techniques that all journalists must master: researching a topic; identifying potential interviewees; focusing the story; and writing and rewriting story drafts. The object is to show improvement between first and subsequent drafts, with help from others in the workshop, who will provide periodic short critiques. [Note: The profile project will be modified to reflect what is possible under pandemic conditions.] This course is cross-listed in Science, Technology and Society as STSC 118.

This course meets both the humanities and public engagement requirements.


Spring 2022


Kok-Chor Tan

Wednesdays 5:15-7:55pm

The theme of this first-year seminar course is the ethics and politics of wildlife and environmental conservation. We will explore two sets of questions related to conservation. (i) First, what do we owe to (non-human) animals and the natural environment? For example, what intrinsic interests and rights do animals have? And is there such a thing as "the right of nature?" Do rivers themselves, for example, have rights? (ii) Second, what do we owe to each other regarding animals and the natural environment? For example, what are the societal costs of wildlife conservation and how are these to be fairly distributed? How do considerations of social justice and global justice affect our understanding of ethical conservation? What is a globally just allocation of the burdens of climate justice and environmental protection? And has global eco-tourism contributed positively to both conservation and social/local justice? Among other things, this seminar will attempt to integrate the more familiar field of animal and environmental ethics with the less explored question of the justice and politics of conservation.

Spring 2022

EAS 401/501

Noam Lior

TR 5:15-6:45 PM

The objective is to introduce students to one of the most dominating and compelling areas of human existence and endeavor: energy, with its foundations in technology, from a quantitative sustainability viewpoint with its association to economics and impacts on environment and society. This introduction is intended both for general education and awareness and for preparation for careers related to this field, with emphasis on explaining the technological foundation. The course spans from basic principles to applications. A review of energy consumption, use, and resources; environmental impacts, sustainability and design of sustainable energy systems; introductory aspects of energy economics and carbon trading; methods of energy analysis; forecasting; energy storage; electricity generation and distribution systems (steam and gas turbine based power plans, fuel cells), fossil fuel energy (gas, oil, coal) including nonconventional types (shale gas and oil, oil sands, coalbed and tight-sand gas), nuclear energy wastes: brief introduction to renewable energy use: brief introduction to solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, biomass; energy for buildings, energy for transportation (cars, aircraft, and ships); prospects for future energy systems: fusion power, power generation in space. Students interested in specializing in one or two energy topics can do so by choosing them as their course project assignments. Prerequisite: Any University student interested in energy and its impacts, who is a Junior Senior. Students taking the course EAS 501 will be given assignments commensurate with graduate standing.

This course fulfills Natural Science Approaches to Environmental Inquiry requirement.

Spring 2022


Douglas J. Durian

TR 10:15 AM- 11:45 AM

The developed world's dependence on fossil fuels for energy production has extremely undesirable economic, environmental, and political consequences, and is likely to be mankind's greatest challenge in the 21st century. We describe the physical principles of energy, its production and consumption, and environmental consequences, including the greenhouse effect. We will examine a number of alternative modes of energy generation - fossil fuels, biomass, wind, solar, hydro, and nuclear - and study the physical and technological aspects of each, and their societal, environmental and economic impacts over the construction and operational lifetimes. No previous study of physics is assumed. Prerequisites: Algebra and Trigonometry. Target audience: Non-science majors (although science/engineering students are welcome).

This course fulfills Natural Science Approaches to Environmental Inquiry requirement.

Spring 2022

ANTH 543, COML 562, ENVS 544, GRMN 544, URBS 544

Bethany Wiggin

Wednesdays 1:45-4:45pm

By necessity, work in environmental humanities spans academic disciplines. By design, it can also address and engage publics beyond traditional academic settings. This seminar explores best practices in public environmental humanities. Students receive close mentoring and build collaborative community to develop and execute cross-disciplinary, public engagement projects on the environment. This spring, this broadly interdisciplinary course is designed in conjunction with two multi-year participatory environmental humanities research projects: My Climate Story and An Ecotopian Toolkit for the Anthropocene. In the framework of our seminar, students will have opportunities to work with museum curators and educators on project-based assignments that also engage high school students and museum publics around issues of climate and environmental justice. This lab-style seminar is suitable for advanced undergraduates (with permission) and graduate students in departments across Arts and Sciences as well as other schools at the university.

Public Humanities Poster

Spring 2022

ANTH 199

Nandita Badami

Tuesdays/Thursday, 12:00PM-1:30PM

This course is a survey of a selection of concepts frequently encountered in the environmental humanities. Each week introduces a word with a view to thinking about "its climate": we investigate its theoretical meanings, the political ends to which it is mobilized, and the historical contexts in which it first took on the ideas we now associate with it. 

We will think closely about how words build worlds: what they mean, what they don't, and how we use them to construct and negotiate reality. We will explore concepts as fundamental as "nature", "wilderness", "the environment", "the anthropocene", "the planetary", and "the climate" itself. 

This undergraduate level course meets for the Spring 2022 semester on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:00-1:30pm. Please sign up here and you will receive a confirmation and welcome from Dr. Badami before the semester begins. Registration cap: 15



Course flyer, all information is represented in text on this webpage


Spring 2022


Kathleen Morrison

TR 01:45 PM-03:15 PM

This seminar explores the historical ecology of European colonial expansion in a comparative framework, concentrating on the production of "periphery" and the transformation of incorporated societies and environments. We begin with a discussion of the theoretical frameworks, sources of evidence, and analytical strategies employed by researchers to address the conjunction of environmental and human history in colonial contexts, including underdevelopment and global systems of circulation; political ecology; and ecological imperialism. We then discuss the circulation of persons, crops, invasives, and microbes as fundamental conditions of emerging global systems. Drawing on these elements, we discuss landscapes as sites of misrecognition, rationalization, and cultural production. This discussion sets the stage for an examination of novel forms of economic and ecological production, including the emergence of the 'drug foods', the transformation of forest products, and the rise of the plantation. We then consider the political ecology of crisis in colonial settings, including agrarian collapse, famine, and 'ecological poverty.'

This course fulfills Social Science Approaches to Environmental Inquiry elective.

Spring 2022


Michael Weisberg

TR 10:15 PM-11:15 PM and recitation

This course is a comprehensive introduction to the climate emergency and the tools with which we can fight it. It will integrate natural science, social science, philosophy of science, history, ethics, and policy. The course opens with an overview of the historical discovery of global warming and our contemporary understanding of climate change. We then turn to the framework that the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has developed to study climate risks, focusing on both general issues and case studies throughout the world. The existence and severity of these risks raises questions of climate justice at many levels: individuals to individuals, countries to countries, and the present generation to future generations. We will study these issues in detail, and then examine the policy tools developed to address them. Although we will discuss national and sub-national policy and policy proposals such as the Green New Deal, special attention will be given to global policy tools, especially the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement. In addition to standard writing assignments, students will have a chance to develop policy proposals that address the core issues of the class.

This course fulfills Social Science Approaches to Environmental Inquiry elective.

Spring 2022


Thomas Daniels

TR 01:45 PM-03:15 PM

Overview of federal programs for protecting air quality, water quality, and endangered species along with managing climate change, solid waste, toxics, energy, transportation, and remediating brownfields in an overall sustainability framework. State-level, local government, and NGO efforts to protect the environment are also explored as are green infrastructure and green cities.

This course fulfills Social Science Approaches to Environmental Inquiry elective.

Spring 2022


Teresa Giménez

MW 1:45-3:15PM

This course explores the involvement of the Latinx environmental justice movement since the 1960s. It addresses theories and concepts of environmental racism and environmental justice, underscoring how Latinx have challenged, expanded, and contributed to the environmental justice discourse. In this course, students will explore national case studies of environmental and racial injustice as they bear on Latinx communities both in rural areas and in urban barrios throughout the United States. The course will analyze these case studies through the lens of Latinx artistic and literary texts (essays, paintings, short stories, documentaries, and short films) as they provide a unique historic and multicultural perspective of the Latinx experience with environmental injustice and of how Latinxs imagine alternative transitions and responses to environmental marginalization. In addition, the works of Latinx artists and writers will serve as case studies to deconstruct racial stereotypes of Latinxs as unconcerned about environmental issues, shedding light on how they share a broad engagement with environmental ideas. The case studies analyzed in this course emphasize race and class differences between farmworkers and urban barrio residents and how they affect their respective struggles. The unit on farmworkers will focus on workplace health issues such as toxic chemicals and collective bargaining contracts. The unit on urban barrios will focus on gentrification, affordable housing, and toxic substances in the home. We will also review current and past programs that have been organized to address the aforementioned problems. This is an Academically Based Community Service Course (ABCS course) through which students will learn from and provide support to a Latinx-serving organization in the City of Philadelphia on preventing exposure to hazardous substances, thus bridging the information gap on environmental justice issues in the Latinx community in Philadelphia. Information dissemination and education efforts will be conducted by collaborating with Esperanza Academy Charter School in Philadelphia to implement lessons on preventing exposure to hazardous substances. Studying environmental justice and pairing it with community service will heighten students' awareness of the complexities of culture, race, gender, and class while providing them with an invaluable experience of cross-cultural understanding. 
This course is also listed as SPAN093, ENVS093, LALS093, URBS093.

This course fulfills Arts & Humanities Approaches to Environmental Inquiry elective.

Spring 2022