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Course Description

A global overview of the changing relationships among society, technology and the environment. This course emphasizes the major stages of human use of resources and the environmental consequences of global changes in production systems. It contrasts Third and First World experiences, focusing on core-periphery relationships.

Note: This course can be taken individually or as a part of a certificate program.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, the learner should be able to:

  1. Identify and describe human impacts on the environment across a variety of earth systems and scales;
  2. Define concepts from earth system sciences that characterize environmental change from a biophysical perspective (e.g., feedback loops, open/closed systems, nutrient cycles, etc.) and apply these concepts to specific cases and examples;
  3. Discuss the social scientific concepts that drive human impacts on the environment (e.g., institutional failures, market failures, environmental racism, etc.) and different ways governments, companies, and civil society actors govern environmental change, and apply these concepts to specific cases and examples;
  4. Investigate, evaluate, and synthesize diverse sources of knowledge about real-world, place-based environmental issues; and
  5. Write a policy memo that provides an overview of what we know about a specific environmental change, its societal drivers, and potentially effective governance approaches.

Course Topics

  • Earth System Science
  • The Anthropocene
  • Population
  • Institutions
  • Ethics and Values
  • Risk Governance
  • Markets
  • Political Economy
  • Settler Colonialism
  • Environmental Justice
  • Writing Research Summaries and Synthesizing Research

Additional Requirements

Pre-requisite(s): None
Co-requisite(s): None
Equate(s): None
Restriction(s):  None


Assessment Item Weight Learning Outcomes
Weekly Quizzes (Best 7 out of 9; 3% each)  21% 1, 2
Comprehensive Exam 24% 1, 2
Research Journal – Topic 10% 3
Research Journal – Sources & Summaries 20% 3, 4
Research Journal – Policy Memo 25% 3, 4, 5
Total 100% 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5


Applies Towards the Following Certificates

Technical Requirements

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*Course details are subject to change.


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