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


Rahul Mukherjee

W 5:15-8:15pm

Documents are written texts, evidence, inscriptions, and much more. Documentary films have been used to tell stories, share experiences, spread propaganda, resist exploitation, invoke memories, and much more. How can we think of information and meaning in relation to the shared histories of document and documentary? Database management systems based on digital technologies have technically transformed ways of classifying, storing, and aggregating data, but have they really changed our experiences of mediating with our past, present, and future? Issues of agency, memory, representation, performativity, interactivity, and posthumanism are entangled in discussions of databases and archives and our engagement with them. In this course we will relate and juxtapose readings connecting documents, documentaries, and archives. We will read media and cultural theorists such as Lisa Gitelman, Akira Lippit, and Wendy Chun alongside novelists like Franz Kafka and Ismail Kadare. Assignments include one assigned/selected report from field visits to libraries and museums, one reading presentation and blogging assignment, and a final paper or practice-based art project.

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

Spring 2022


Jacqueline N. Sadashige

T 7:00-9:00pm

In early 2017, animal rights lawyer Steve Wise argued that two of his clients should be afforded the rights of "personhood." The clients in question were chimpanzees. This case suggests that "speciesism" might soon be met with the same degree of suspicion as sexism and racism. This course will explore how such a shift could come about and what it might signal. We will begin by examining the western foundations of binaries such as human-animal, male-female, and self-other. From here we will explore recent attempts to dismantle these constructs by ecofeminists and post-humanists. We will also look at how such categories have manifested in social movements and cultural artifacts. Finally, we will investigate how our beliefs about who "we" are and what "we" are not can affect everything from the foods we eat to where and how we vacation. Undergraduates require approval.


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

Spring 2022


Kathleen Morrison

W 1:45-4:45pm

As our planet's climate changes, it is imperative to understand the basic structures of the earth system and our connections to these, past, present, and future. The goal of this course is to help students develop an integrated understanding of climate change, linking the fundamental science - from the microscopic to the global scale - to human actions and possible futures. This team-taught course brings together approaches from environmental science, social sciences, history, and policy. Beyond providing basic climate and environmental literacy, we will also explore current and projected impacts of change, including changes to human life and biodiversity as well as other physical and biological systems. The complexity and significance of planetary change demands new ways of thinking and new approaches that transcend traditional boundaries; for that reason the course will be co-taught by instructors from the natural sciences (Joseph Francisco), social science and humanities (Kathleen Morrison), and policy (Melissa Brown Goodall). We will use the foundation provided by the two first parts of the course to address potential responses and solutions to the current crisis. The course will be divided into three units: 1. Science: what are the chemical and physical drivers of our changing climate, and what are the biological, health and environmental implications so far. 2. Impacts: how human activity has affected environments and climate so far and how climate change is currently impacting society, nature, agriculture, health, cities, and the most vulnerable communities. 3. Solutions: the roles of policy, business, agriculture, planning, and personal choices. The course is open to undergraduate students of all disciplines. While the reading and weekly assignments will be specific to the module, students may define a capstone project that reflects their academic interests.


This course fulfills Social Science Approaches to Environmental Inquiry or Natural Science Approaches to Environmental Inquiry elective.

Spring 2022


Campbell Grey

MW 1:45-3:15pm

Disasters occupy a powerful place in our imagination. Stories of floods, plagues, earthquakes and storms excite and horrify us, and communities mobilize their resources quickly in response to these events. In the ancient Mediterranean world, disasters could take on potent meaning, indicating the anger or disfavor of the gods, acting as warnings against certain courses of action, or confirmations of individuals' fears or suspicions about the world in which they lived. In this course, we explore the evidence for some disasters in the ancient Mediterranean world, the ways in which contemporaries reacted to those disasters and interpreted their causes. This project is, of necessity, multidisciplinary, involving textual, archaeological, geological, and comparative materials and drawing on methodologies from history, political and archaeological science, and the emerging field of disaster studies. In the process, we will gain an appreciation of the social structures of communities in the period, the thought-world in which they operated, and the challenges and opportunities that attend a project of this sort. No prior knowledge of Ancient History is required, although it would be useful to have taken an introductory survey course. Texts will be discussed in translation.


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

Spring 2022

ENGL 102-601

Sherif Hasan Ismail Muhamed

MW 5:16-6:45pm

Literary studies has become one of the most active areas of the “Environmental Humanities.”  This course will introduce you to some of the main concerns of that increasingly important field.   We will consider the ways that literature helps us think about human relationships to environments, natures, places, animals, weather events, and the planet.  We will develop a historical perspective on how literary and philosophical traditions such as romanticism, transcendentalism, naturalism, and postmodernism mediate different understandings of the environment. We will also focus on contemporary environmental questions and problems, exploring the role of literature in our present ecological crisis, especially regarding climate change and environmental justice.  We will analyze literary texts, situate them in context, discuss and interpret diversely, and reflect on our own preconceptions about our relationship to the nonhuman world.  To engage deeply and thoughtfully with texts, we will avail ourselves of several philosophical and critical approaches, such as new materialism, ecofeminism, critical animal studies, and ecocriticism. Through reading, discussion, and research, students will enhance their environmental awareness, deepen their sense of place and sense of planet, and develop their critical reading and writing skills.

Our readings will include poems by William Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, Wallace Stevens, and Camille Dungy; prose nonfiction by Henry David Thoreau, Annie Dillard, and Edward Abbey; narrative fiction by such writers as Alice Walker, Leslie Marmon Silko, Amitav Ghosh, Jesmyn Ward, Don DeLillo, and Jeanette Winterson; and a range of theoretical and critical texts that will facilitate our engagement with the course readings. Most of our readings will be fairly short, rarely more than 120 pages a week.

You will need to purchase some books in hard copy or in digital format, but many of our reading materials will be available on the course site on Canvas. Everyone is expected to read the assigned texts and think about what they have read before coming to class.

Course requirements include weekly discussion posts on the course blog, one oral presentation with class discussion, a research paper, and a creative project (with various options, including nature or place writing, fieldnotes, and creative engagement with the reading materials). No previous knowledge or experience with literary analysis is required.

Attendance is mandatory. If absence from a particular class meeting is unavoidable, you should consult with me in order to discuss makeup work.

Final grades will be based on weekly discussion posts (20%), presentation and leading class discussion (20%), research paper (30%), creative project (20%), and performance in class discussions (10%). Cheating or plagiarism will result in an F for the class.

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

Spring 2022

ENGL 010-305

Knar Gavin

M 5:15-8:15

In Worlding Otherwise, we’ll tend our impulses toward ecological forms of literary expression. This class is about writing as communing, or, as Stephen Collis puts it, “what all life does” — “the radical sharing of the means and materials of existence.” Light research, archival exploration, and engagements with manifestos from social movements are a few methods of textual encounter that might animate our writing practices. You’ll be encouraged to document, imaginatively reinhabit, and remediate places and histories of concern. If there are particular social, environmental, or political urgencies that have been beckoning to you, follow them — and then pull them onto the page! And for those who feel driven to write spaces of refuge into existence, this workshop will hold space for that refuge-making.

Kaia Sand has suggested the possibility of forming “a small society around the poetic act.” We’ll embrace this notion as we work within and press beyond traditional genres (poetry, memoir, and fiction among them) to attend to publics, histories, and environments of concern. Reading and writing together as a small, temporary society, our workshop will invest care and curiosity into each text’s operations on the level of theme, style, form and content. We’ll also think about the ecological and social horizons that emerge in our writings: what sorts of social worlds and modes of ecological relation might we choreograph, script, and prefigure in our stories, poems, and mixed-genre experiments?

Course requirements include comradely participation, regular short assignments, and a final portfolio. Many assignments are genre-flexible: this flexibility is designed to retain space for experimentation, exploration, and documentary practice. Writers we will read include Susan Briante, Renee Gladman, Rebecca Solnit, C.S. Giscombe, and Mark Nowak.

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

Spring 2022

ENGL 255-301

Barri J. Gold

MW 3:30-5pm

Coalbrookdale by Night is an 1801 oil painting by Philip James de Loutherbourg. The painting depicts the Madeley Wood Furnaces.

The Death of the Sun: Energy, Evolution & Ecology in Victorian Fiction
Two Victorian ideas--energy and evolution--form the basis of modern ecology. But among Victorians, these concepts fueled and were shaped by the hopes and fears, anxieties and aspirations of a nation coping with change. Fears regarding the death of the sun competed with deeply held beliefs about conservation as well as with the hope for unlimited progress. This course explores the ways Victorian literature wrestled with and helped shape the way we understand ourselves and the natural world. Authors read include Tennyson, Wells, Dickens, Hopkins, Gaskell, as well as contemporary ecocritics such as Lawrence Buell, Kate Soper, Heidi Scott and Timothy Morton.

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

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