ENVI 110
The Anthropocene: Nature and Culture in the Human Age Spring 2018
Division II Writing Skills
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In 2016, a group of scientists appointed by the International Commission on Stratigraphy, the body that keeps the official timetable of earth’s history, will decide whether the planet has entered a new age known as the Anthropocene. Their questions are epochal: Has humanity become a geological force as powerful as those that have shaped the planet’s deep past, such as ice sheets and asteroids? Have we truly entered “the human age,” and if so, when did it begin and what does it all mean? This course will ask how researchers from different fields have sought to answer these questions. Just as important, it will ask how they became questions in the first place. Where did the idea of the Anthropocene come from? What are its social, political, and ethical implications? How we have arrived at this new understanding of our planet and ourselves? And what can this major intellectual shift-a shift that has already begun to send waves far beyond the academy into the worlds of art, literature, politics, and religion-tell us about the construction of environmental knowledge in the twenty-first century? Readings will come primarily from the environmental social sciences and humanities, including works by nineteenth and early twentieth-century environmental thinkers, but will be supplemented with material from the natural and environmental sciences. Topics will include climate change, mass extinction, urbanization, and deforestation. Our focus throughout will remain on ways of knowing, imagining, and representing global environmental change in an era of ever-expanding human influence.
The Class: Type: tutorial
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 3619
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: each week each student will either write a 5- to 7-page essay on assigned readings or offer a 2-page critique of their partner's paper
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis; not available for the fifth course option
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: first years, sophomores and those with demonstrated interest in environmental studies
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
Attributes: AMST Space and Place Electives

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