Spring 2020

DSGN 317

Orkan Telhan

Wednesday 2:00 - 5:00 PM

"Cultures of Making (and Unmaking)" is a studio/seminar hybrid that investigates the designers’ responsibilities towards the environment and the climate crisis. The students work with contemporary technologies—sensors, indicators, sequencers, mapping devices— to learn about different ways to sense, image, and construct knowledge about the physical world around us. The course is divided between different strategies of analysis and designwork that show how to act towards pollution, biodiversity loss, and the climate change on individual, communal, and planetary scales.  The course involves fieldtrips, design workshops, and interaction with domain experts in environmental sensing and visualization.

Spring 2020

ENGL 268

Tuesday/Thursday, 1:30 - 3:00 PM

In this class we will explore the narrative mode of the apocalypse in the context of the geologic designation of the Anthropocene. We will analyze a diversity of cultural forms to think about questions, reconceptions, and social issues relevant to that epochal concept. Specifically, we will focus primarily on the ways North American literature (especially the novel, but also film, blogs, and video games) attempt to understand the human and non-human relationships in the Anthropocene through stories of apocalypse. We will look to the ways apocalyptic stories can represent and contest the exploitative, extractive, and unequal power relations that the “era of the human” includes, paying special attention to American notions of nature and stewardship as they relate to geologic time and the legacies of genocide, slavery, and capitalism. Our class will investigate the ways works of art attempt to render these complex and perhaps overwhelming concepts comprehensible so that we may envision and enact just futures.

course poster including course information and an image of an apocolyptic scene of destruction with burned out cars on the side of the road and an orange-tinged smoke-filled sky above an urban skyline.

Spring 2020

BEPP/OIDD 263

Arthur van Benthem

Tuesday/Thursday, 12-1:20 PM

smoke stacks

Provides students with an economist’s perspective on:

  • Energy markets and environmental regulation
  • Power markets and energy storage
  • Oil and gas pricing and contracts
  • Geopolitics and investment risk
  • Cap-and-trade and climate policy
  • Valuation of the environment
  • Renewable energy finance
Spring 2020

BEPP/OIDD 763

Arthur van Benthem

Tuesday/Thursday, 3 - 4:20 PM

windmills by sunset

Provides students with an economist’s perspective on:

  •  Energy markets and environmental regulation
  • (De)regulation of power markets
  • Energy storage
  • Oil and gas pricing and contracts
  • Geopolitics and investment risk
  • Cap-and-trade and climate policy
  • Renewable energy finance
Spring 2020

ANTH 539-301

Nikhil Anand

Tuesday, 1:30 - 4:30 PM

As capitalist relations remake the earth through projects of intensified mineral extraction, carbon-based energy consumption and the production of 'waste', in this course we will examine the diverse histories and practices through which nature-society relations have been studied in anthropology and related disciplines. The course will follow a genealogical approach to understand some contemporary theoretical developments in environmental anthropology, including multispecies ethnography, the anthropology of infrastructure, and ontological anthropology. In what ways do these modes of doing anthropology recapitulate or address some of the earlier debates on race, indigeneity, materiality and alterity? How might recent work in the field generate new ways to remake the world and our understanding of it? The class will combine key theoretical texts in cultural ecology, political ecology and science and technology studies together with ethnographies of natureculture to investigate how earth water, earth, air and fire are being remade in the current moment. It borrows from and builds on the "Reading List for a Progressive Environmental Anthropology" by Guarasci, Moore and Vaughn (2018) to rethink and reconstitute what counts as the canon of the field by attending to the contributions of women, people of color, scholars working outside of the United States, and indigenous authors. By examining the entanglements of nature, culture and political economy in the contemporary moment, the course will enable students to situate and construct their dissertation research projects with what is a prolific and compelling literature to imagine and understand our climate changed world.

Spring 2020

ENVS 410-301

Howard Neukrug

Tuesday, 5-8 PM

Introduction to the Course

This course examines the historical relationship between a city and its water supply and the new techniques being used to manage water in its many forms - stormwater runoff, flooding, drinking water supply and conservation, and river and stream enhancement and protection. It builds strongly on the planning, design, implementation, operating and monitoring of "green stormwater infrastructure"(or, GSI). GSI is a term developed by Philadelphia's “Green City, Clean Water” concepts that are currently being tested and implemented in cities across the US and abroad. By re-thinking how we build and manage our cities, using "soft path", "green", "decentralized" water infrastructure systems, we may be able to change the long-term outcome for the livability and viability of our communities as issues of climate change, aging infrastructure and funding take center stage in the 21st century.

The purpose of this course is to prepare the student to manage complex environmental, social and economic issues using science, planning, green design, geographic information systems, community outreach and education. Water is the medium and Philadelphia is the setting and the goal is the creation of a vibrant, sustainable city. This course will involve urban development and city planning, environmental justice and social equity, jobs and economics, civil engineering, environmental science, regulations and policy, urban hydrology, landscape architecture, community outreach and politics. You are not expected to be an expert in these areas when you begin the course, but by the time class is completed, you will be expected to understand the "transdisciplinary" nature and importance of working within groups of experts, politicians and other stakeholders.

Perhaps most importantly, this is an academically-based curriculum service (ABCS) learning approach for using water, science, and politics to create more sustainable and resilient cities. Students will be expected to take knowledge learned in the classroom and apply it through field investigations, working with non-profits, scientific data analysis, educating and/or other means of working closely with stakeholders in the community in an attempt to change the world, or at least a small piece of it.

This course is being taught by Professor of Water Practice Howard Neukrug, PE who formed the city’s Office of Watersheds in 1999 to bring many of these ideas to Philadelphia. Prof. Neukrug will use seminars, lectures, student presentations and a comprehensive community

service project to develop an in-depth understanding of current conditions effecting urban environments and how science and politics interact to influence the development of sustainable cities. It will connect the issues of a post-industrial urban centers with the goals of the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Water Industry.

Our "buried" and remaining urban creeks and rivers and the vast underground infrastructure network will be a central theme upon which we will build a working knowledge of centuries of urban growth and the environmental injustices that have emerged along the way . These will all become key factors in determining how improving our water environment can make a real difference in the lives of Philadelphians and other urban systems such as housing, land use, transportation, recreation, economy, and place in turn, set the trajectory for a sustainable city.

Topics covered in the course include: urban and community planning and design, green infrastructure, landscape architecture, risk management and communication, water quality and protection, resilience to climate change, watershed monitoring and reporting, public outreach and education, implementing change and the dynamic relationship between the watershed, waterfront, and the waterways.

Spring 2020

LARP 780-003

Nicholas Pevzner

Friday, 1:30-4:30pm

Landscapes of energy extraction and carbon sequestration may be located far from one another, yet they are closely connected through the dynamics of the carbon economy, the legacy patterns of territorial power and control, and of the cultural narratives that we tell. This seminar will delve into historic and emerging energy infrastructure and its deeply-held cultural narratives, unpack the politics of carbon markets and carbon trading, and analyze some promising carbon sequestration practices and their cultural landscapes.

The first part of the class will look at how the large-scale infrastructure projects built to enable extraction have long acted as powerful organizers of territory: how energy infrastructure projects have historically been used to project power, extract value, and reshape patterns of labor and settlement — whether it’s the canals that were built to support coal extraction in Pennsylvania, the geography of oil pipelines and oil ports, or emerging kinds of renewable energy that continue to carry old legacy patterns of power. The second half — landscapes of sequestration — will survey a range of landscape strategies with the potential to “draw down” the atmospheric carbon pool — from new technological approaches, to new kinds of agriculture and forestry management, to coastal mangrove restoration and the farming of coastal “blue carbon.” We will investigate the ecological principles behind these strategies, and critically analyze the spatial and cultural effects that these practices can have.

From carbon markets to carbon capture, these practices are not neutral: this seminar will dig into the contested narratives of how carbon should be managed, and critically interrogates the spatial choices that will underpin the energy system of the future.

Spring 2020

History 060

Marcy Norton

Anne Berg

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

history 060

 

Course Description

What is the environment and when did it come to be? Is the environment different from nature? If so how? If not, why not? These days, perhaps, we think of the environment as something that we inhabit, shape, experience, destroy. This course explores the changing relationships between human beings and the natural world from early history to the present. We will consider the various ways humans across the globe have interacted with and modified the natural world by using fire, domesticating plants and animals, extracting minerals and energy, designing petro-chemicals, splitting atoms and leaving behind wastes of all sorts. Together we consider the impacts, ranging from population expansion to species extinctions and climate change. We examine how human interactions with the natural world relate to broader cultural processes such as religion, colonialism and capitalism, and why it is important to understand the past, even the deep past, in order to rise to the challenges of the present.

Spring 2020

History 234

Anne Berg

Wednesday, 2 - 5PM

wastes of war

Course Description

This seminar examines the human and environmental consequences of violent conflict from the South African War at the beginning of the 20th century to the War on Terror. War violently transforms the social and physical environment. War reshuffles ideologies, reimagines futures and reshapes alliances, destroys bodies, spaces, societies, habitats, ecosystems and cultures. And of course, there’s no war that doesn’t produce a whole host of wastes, and as a result, inspires a multitude of strategies to combat and eradicate them. In this course, we approach war as an engine of destruction and transformation rather than as politics gone awry. The wastes of war will serve as our focal point as we study the new worlds (technological, social and environmental) that war not merely leaves in its wake but systematically generates. Critically examining two key categories – “waste” and “war” in tandem, we discover how together they fundamentally restructure our social, cultural and natural worlds in unexpected ways.

Spring 2020

ANTH 031

Kristina Lyons

Tuesday 3:00-6:00 PM

In less than half a decade, the idea that "nature" possesses inalienable rights akin to human rights has gone from a strictly theoretical concept to the basis of policy changes in several countries and U.S. municipalities. This first-year seminar will introduce students to current legal, political, ethical, and practical debates about the implementation and impacts of granting “rights to nature” in these different contexts. We will begin by examining how the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) supported citizens of Tamaqua, Pennsylvania to write the world's first local "rights of nature" ordinance. We will then go on to compare the politics of "rights of nature" cases in Ecuador, New Zealand, India, and Colombia, and beyond. We will pay particular attention to the way biocentric constitutional moves may transform concepts and understandings of environmental justice and socio-environmental conflicts. In particular, how the recognition of "nature" as a victim of war may transform understandings of violence, and hence, approaches to constructing peace and engaging and reparative and restorative practices within the larger framework of planetary and community efforts to mitigate climate change. Lastly, we will explore the possibilities and tensions between community decision-making, the "rights of nature," and national level policies regarding the intensification of extractive activities, questions of territorial ordinance, struggles over environmental racism, and the colonial impacts of pollution.  Beyond social science or legal documents, we will also engage with literary texts and films to help us explore these issues. The final project for this seminar will integrate multimodal methods with contemporary environmental issues to experiment with doing public engaged environmental humanities work.  

This seminar fulfills the Sector 1 (Society) General Education requirement.

Spring 2020