Fall 2020

GRMN 150

Simon Richter

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

As a result of climate change, the world that will take shape in the course of this century will be decidedly more inundated with water than we're accustomed to. The polar ice caps are melting, glaciers are retreating, ocean levels are rising, polar bear habitat is disappearing, countries are jockeying for control over a new Arctic passage, while low-lying cities and small island nations are confronting the possibility of their own demise. Catastrophic flooding events are increasing in frequency, as are extreme droughts. Hurricane-related storm surges, tsunamis, and raging rivers have devastated regions on a local and global scale. In this course, we will turn to the narratives and images that the human imagination has produced in response to the experience of overwhelming watery invasion, from Noah to New Orleans and beyond. Objects of analysis include mythology, ancient and early modern diluvialism, literature, art, film, and commemorative practice in countries and regions such as the United States, China, India, Thailand, the Middle East, the Netherlands, and Peru. The basic question we'll be asking is: What can we learn from the humanities that will be helpful for confronting the problems and challenges caused by climate change and sea level rise?

This course fulfills the EH Minor Requirement in Arts & Humanities Approaches to Environmental Inquiry. See the full minor requirements list.

Fall 2020

HIST 258-401

Anne Berg

Monday 2:00-5:00 PM

The Amazon is burning. The glaciers are melting. Heat waves, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, wildfires, and droughts devastate ever larger swaths of the earth, producing crop failures, air pollution, soil erosion, famine and terrifying individual hardship. At the same, time the so-called Western World is literally walling itself off from the millions who are fleeing from disaster and war with what little they can carry. White militants chant "blood and soil" and "Jews will not replace us," social media spreads memes and talking points about "white genocide" and "white replacement" and online ideologues fantasize about building white ethnostates. Are these developments connected? Is there a causal relationship? Or are these conditions purely coincidental? Increasingly, arguments about limits to growth, sustainability, development and climate change have come to stand in competitive tension with arguments for social and racial equality. Why is that case? What are the claims and underlying anxieties that polarize western societies? How do white nationalist movements relate to populist and fascist movements in the first half of the 20th century? What is new and different about them now? What is the relationship between environmentalism, rightwing populism and the climate crisis? And how have societies responded to the climate crisis, wealth inequality, finite resources and the threat posed by self-radicalizing white nationalist groups?

This course fulfills the EH Minor Requirement in Arts & Humanities Approaches to Environmental Inquiry. See the full minor requirements list.

Fall 2020

ENVS 411

Maria Antonia Andrews

Tuesday/Thursday 3:00 - 4:30 PM

This is an ABCS course designed to provide the student with an understanding of air pollution at the local, regional and global levels. The nature, composition, and properties of air pollutants in the atmosphere will also be studied. The course will focus on Philadelphia's air quality and how air pollutants have an adverse effect on the health of the residents. The recent designation by IARC of Air Pollution as a known carcinogen will be explored. How the community is exposed to air pollutants with consideration of vulnerable populations will be considered. Through a partnership with Philadelphia Air Management Service (AMS) agency the science of air monitoring and trends over time will be explored. Philadelphia's current non-attainment status for PM2.5. and ozone will be studied. Philadelphia's current initiatives to improvethe air quality of the city will be discussed. Students will learn to measure PM2.5 in outdoor and indoor settings and develop community-based outreach tools to effectively inform the community of Philadelphia regarding air pollution. The outreach tools developed by students may be presentations, written materials, apps, websites or other strategies for enhancing environmental health literacy of the community. A project based approach will be used to include student monitoring of area schools, school bus routes, and the community at large. The data collected will be presented to students in the partner elementary school in West Philadelphia . Upon completion of this course, students should expect to have attained a broad understanding of and familiarity with the sources, fate, and the environmental impacts and health effects of air pollutants.

This course fulfills the EH Minor Public Engagement Requirement. See the full minor requirements list.

Fall 2020

ENVS 404

Richard Pepino

Tuesday/Thursday 10:30-12:00 PM

Lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities, impaired hearing, behavioral problems, and at very high levels, seizures, coma and even death. Children up to the age of six are especially at risk because of their developing systems; they often ingest lead chips and dust while playing in their home and yards. In ENVS 404, Penn undergraduates learn about the epidemiology of lead poisoning, the pathways of exposure, and methods for community outreach and education. Penn students collaborate with middle school and high school teachers in West Philadelphia to engage middle school children in exercises that apply environmental research relating to lead poisoning to their homes and neighborhoods.

This course fulfills the EH minor Public Engagement Requirement. See the full minor requirements list.

Fall 2020

GEOL 204-001

Irina Marinov

Tuesday/Thursday 10:30 AM-12:00 PM

Public perceptions and attitudes concerning the causes and importance of globalwarming have changed. Global Climate Change provides a sound theoretical understanding of global warming through an appreciation of the Earth's climate system and how and why this has changed through time. We will describe progress in understanding of the human and natural drivers of climate change, climate pr0cesses and attribution, and estimates of projected future climate change. We will assess scientific, tehnical, and socio-economic information relevant for the understanding of climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.

This course fulfills the EH Minor Requirement in Natural Science Approaches to Environmental Inquiry. See the full minor requirements list.

Fall 2020

STSC 372-301

Ann Norton Greene

Wednesday 2:00 - 5:00 PM

This course looks at animals in the American past, to find out what a focus on an individual animal, a species, or a kind of animal (such as work animals, food animals, wildlife, zoo animals, pets and pests) can reveal by exposing the inner workings of different periods and events. When we make animals the focus of how we look at the past, things change. Making animals visible makes other things visible; hidden, surprising or even shocking aspects of the past appear.

Americans have always lived with and employed animals. They also have "thought with" animals, using animals to work out their understandings of society, nature and power. How Americans perceived, named, classified, behaved toward and worked with animals bares the workings of race, class and gender, uncovers power structures, and reveals environmental and legal choices. If we want to understand how the current world came to be, taking a critter approach to history provides a way to explain how we got to now. Changing our view of the past can change our ideas of what the present can be.

Though animals are everywhere in the past, they are often hidden from view. We will embark on a hunt for animals, foraging through historical writing, political documents, literature, and primary sources. We will watch movies, examine photographs and study cartoons. We will draw on knowledge from the fields of science, technology, health and environments, and employ the classifications of race, class, gender, nature and culture. We'll talk about evolution, domestication and wildlife. We will look at zoomorphism, when people or things are labeled as animals (calling people pigs or snakes, or talking about bull or bear stock markets), and anthropomorphism, when animals are thought of or portrayed as people. In this seminar, we'll begin with case studies from the nineteenth century, then start seeking the animals of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Writing, much of it informal, will be a regular part of this course, as will research exercises. There will be different options for writing and for research projects. Course materials will focus on American history and society but projects and exercises may look at places and times from around the globe and across the centuries. 

This course fulfills the EH Minor Requirement in Social Science Approaches to Environmental Inquiry. See the full minor requirements list.

Fall 2020

STSC 360-301

Etienne Benson

Thursday 1:30 - 4:30 PM

The idea of solving problems by collecting as much data as possible about them is an old dream that has recently been revitalized. This course examines the hunger for data from a historical and social perspective, seeking to understand when, why, and how the collection of vast amounts of data has come to seem valuable and desirable, sometimes in ways that exceed any reasonable expectation of utility or feasibility. Topics include state surveillance, online tracking, the quantified self, citizen science, civic hacking, human genomics, bioinformatics, and climate science.

This course fulfills the EH Minor in Social Science Approaches to Environmental Inquiry. See the full minor requirements list.

Fall 2020

ANTH 322-301

Kristina Lyons

Monday 2:00 - 5:00 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 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 with a particular focus on the rights associated with bodies of water. 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 paying special attention to the cases of rivers. We will focus on the ways 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, deforestation, and the degradation of watersheds and wetlands. 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 and questions of territorial ordinance as they relate to mulitiple bodies of water.

This course fulfills the EH Minor Requirement in Social Science Approaches to Environmental Inquiry. See the full minor requirements list.

poster with course description and image of water body

Fall 2020

ANTH 297

Nikhil Anand

Monday/Wednesday, 2:00-3:30PM

Water wars, deforestation, climate change. Amidst many uncertain crises, in this course we will explore the emergent relationship between people and the environment in different parts of the world. How do people access the resources they need to live? How, when and for whom does 'nature' come to matter? Why does it matter? And what analytical tools might we use to think, mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change? Drawing together classical anthropological texts and some of the emergent debates in the field of climate studies and environmental justice, in this class we focus on the social-ecological processes through which different groups of humans imagine, produce and inhabit anthropogenic environments. This course is a Ben Franklin Seminar.

This course fulfills the EH Minor Requirement in Social Science Approaches to Environmental Inquiry. See the full minor requirements list.

Fall 2020

BIOL 140

Daniel Janzen

Tuesday/Thursday 3:00 - 4:30 PM

Intensive exposure to current issues and solutions in contemporary human interactions with the environment. Global in scope, but focused on case histories. Emphasis on providing biological and sociological background for a given major environment-human interaction, and state-of-the-art suggested solutions.

This course fulfills the EH Minor Requirement in Natural Science Approaches to Environmental Inquiry. See the full minor requirements list.

Fall 2020