Climate Crossroads (Gen Ed 1167)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020


Irreversible climate change poses an unprecedented challenge to the stability of all societies:  what are the scientifically viable pathways to a future that is sustainable and just?

Science & Technology in Society icon with text

James G. Anderson and James Engell

What one thing is changing everything in your lifetime—and for generations to come? It’s changing what you eat; it’s changing buildings you live in; and it’s changing politics, the arts, and finance. The change is accelerating. This course reveals fundamental alterations that climate disruption is bringing to multiple human activities and natural phenomena.

The course represents a crossroads in two senses. First, it’s a crossroads of disciplines. Climate change affects science, society, culture, government policy, biodiversity, and environmental justice. To understand it is inherently interdisciplinary and requires standing at the crossroads of several approaches. Second, humanity itself is at a new crossroads. Because global climate is shifting rapidly, this prompts new views of humans in geologic time, as well as new thinking in economics, law, finance, and science. 

Climate change isn’t just “global warming.” It’s an alteration of conditions on Earth to which all creatures and societies are adjusting. What is the science of climate change? Why can’t understanding and dealing with climate change be confined to science?

Through materials and assignments that address quantitative understanding and qualitative judgment, you’ll learn why it’s unwise to seal the interrelated issues of climate change in separate disciplines; conversely, why it’s necessary to use separate disciplines to acquire the knowledge and applications needed to formulate policy and actions. You’ll learn about climate adaptation (adjusting to changing climate), mitigation (reducing the speed and severity of climate change), and resilience (e.g., recovering from extreme weather events). You’ll discover how careers in many different areas increasingly involve thinking about climate.

Register for Gen Ed 1167