How to Build a Habitable Planet (Gen Ed 1018)





The relationship between human beings and Earth is the central problem of our time; can an understanding of Earth’s history reveal a place for us in a process of planetary evolution that might influence our behavior?


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Charles H. Langmuir

Poster for Gen Ed 1018 - How to Build a Habitable Planet. Includes images of earth as well as a construction worker. Text describes course.

Is Earth one of many planets in an inhabited Universe, or is it the result of a low-probability accident? And what does the answer to that question tell us about humans’ relationship to our planet? The aim of this course is to place human beings in a universal and planetary context as we investigate the steps of planetary evolution and their significance to our current relationship to Earth. We will explore the origins of the solar system, life, and the elements, and more, placing humanity in the context of a process that may be universal. This then provides a novel perspective on current environmental problems and how we might deal with them, and the likelihood of alien beings and whether we need to fear them. Assignments include the book How to Build a Habitable Planet, two-hour sections, experiments focusing on the environmental impact of how we live, and a field trip to see power generation and waste disposal. At the end of this course, you will have a greater understanding of the past, present, and future of the planet we call home, and the planetary consequences of your life decisions.

Register for Gen Ed 1018