Fall 2015 Class Preview


By David Chacon, Bob Sherman, Jamie Schmid, Rachael Sarette, Amanda Hermans, Lan Nguyen and Christina Cilento So registration is next week and you're overwhelmed by the plethora of environmental options. But fear not!! In Our Nature has the inside scoop for you on all the eco classes being offered for Fall 2015. Scroll down for a sampling of the options, then tail on over to Caesar and add them to your shopping cart!



Prof. Sheila Wille

T/TH 12:30-1:50 p.m.

University Hall 101

Description: Imagine living in the 17th century and spending your days receiving plants and animals from the Americas, India, China or South America. While attempting to draw and analyze hundreds of these specimens, you are also trying to cultivate favor with politicians and other natural historians. From 1500 to 1850 in Britain, groups of natural historians did these tasks in order to help Britain and themselves gain power. This class takes a look at these primary documents from this time period to understand how knowledge of the natural world shaped the power dynamics of Britain.

What to get out of this class: “Bugs and Botanicals is designed with two goals in mind,” said professor Sheila Wille. “The first is to learn about the histories of these fascinating sciences in the early period of their development in the British Empire. The second is to practice doing the actual work of a professional historian. We read and analyze a preponderance of documents from the actual time periods, written by the naturalists themselves, and then we focus hard on using those documents to write argumentative research papers on topics of your own choosing. If you love a challenge, take this course!”

Best CTEC: “Prof Wille keeps the class relevant by giving us days off to go and complete an assignment at the Chicago Art institute or listen to a relevant lecture on campus.”

population bio


Prof. Aaron Miller

M/W 11 a.m.-12:20 p.m.

ANTHRO Seminar Room B07 - 1810 Hinman

*Juniors/Seniors Only.

Description: As humans we have a fascination with trying to explain the factors that make us who we are. This class examines scientific research that attempts to answer questions like how social factors affect metabolism or what ecological factors affect growth. All of these studies will be scrutinized in order to analyze the flaws present.

What to get out of this class: Professor Miller says that he hopes students will “gain a greater appreciation of how poverty and conditions of marginalization place limits on human adaptability.”

Best CTEC: “Miller is good at explaining the relevance or flaws in the studies we read about.”

Diversity of life


Prof. Gary Galbreath

M/W/F 3-3:50 p.m.

Pancoe Building Abbott Auditorium

Description: If you are interested in learning about animals but are scared of science classes and worry about getting lost in Tech, this is the class for you! The purpose of this course is to help students understand the diversity among organisms, particularly animals, and how these differences came about over billions of years. Also, it’s in a prime location to visit the legendary campus Einstein Bros.

What to get out of this class: When speaking about how students interested in the environment will benefit from this course, Prof. Galbreath says, “One cannot properly appreciate-- let alone work to conserve-- what one does not know much about.”

Best CTEC: “Diversity of Life is the quintessential science distro: the material is pretty interesting and rarely will you get bogged down in minutiae, one midterm out of three is dropped, and there is nothing whatsoever quantitative here. If you're a science-phobe, or just looking to round out a tricky quarter with one relaxed class, this is a solid option.”

envr sci 203


Prof. Neal Blair

T/TH 2-3:30 p.m. with discussion section

University Hall 122

Description: This class has everything you ever wanted to know about energy production, and then some. It’s basically divided into two halves: the first half of the course is about fossil fuels, their formation, production, and environmental impacts; the second is all about biofuels. A huge amount of the grade is homework and class participation, which is really cool, plus Dr. Blair is a super nice guy, if not the most engaging lecturer in the world. If you’re looking at taking this class just for fun or for a distro, it might not be the best call, unless you’re like…really into the chemistry of how smog forms and things like that. But overall, this is a reasonably interesting class, with a ton of the science behind a lot of energy-related stories that you see in the news.

Best CTEC: “Blair is a very genuine and enthusiastic about the subject, the class is just a little slow if you're a senior.”

isen 210


Prof. Eric Masanet

T/TH 3:30-4:50 p.m

Annenberg Hall G21

Description: This class is all about sustainability! Learn what it means to be a sustainable society in the context of energy and resource use, consumption and development, and environmental constraints. Figure out how human habits and behaviors contribute to issues of sustainability, and then come up with solutions to reduce society’s impact on the environment. TL;DR: SAVE THE WORLD THROUGH SUSTAINABILITY!

What to get out of this class: “Students will learn how to use data and analysis to better understand the myriad sustainability challenges faced by society, and, more importantly, to assess how adopting improved technologies, policies, and behaviors can help address these challenges.”


environment and society


Prof. Susan Thistle

T/TH 12:30-1:50 p.m.

Annenberg G15

Description: In a nutshell: learn about how society and the environmental interact both in positive and negative ways.  How does the government play a role in the environment? How do grassroots movements improve the environment? What role does the market economy play?

What to get out of this class: In this class, you will discuss how society causes the problems facing our world today, and what society can do to solve these problems.Don’t sit in the back row, do the readings, remember a lot of details, and you will be fine!” said Medill freshman Hyunjee Lee.


food and society


Prof. Susan Thistle

T/TH 3:30-4:40 p.m.

555 Clark B01

Description: Food. Who doesn’t like food!? However, this class looks at food in a larger context. How did we get from small farmers to large agricultural companies like Monsanto? How has our food been impacted in the process?

What to get out of this class: This course addresses how governments, social movements, and economies shape our modern food system. If you are an organic foodie fan or someone who likes knowing what is actually in their food, this class is for you.

Best CTEC: "I believe that this is one of the few courses that actually matters in life, because we all eat every day. It's definitely changed my perspective of agriculture and our food system, and I'm more conscious of what I'm eating and making active choices now."



Prof. Matthew Rossi

T/TH 3:30- 4:50 p.m.

Tech F285

Description: If you enjoy the combination of John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and short showers, then ENVR_SCI 390 is for you! In this seminar, students examine water resource issues through the lens of first-hand accounts of the American West. By seeking out the lessons of the past, perhaps we can move to the future with better knowledge of how to combat water shortages as they relate to us today. No worries if you’re new to the water resource game, Professor Matthew Rossi will introduce many of these issues to ensure that you come out a master.

What to get out of this class: “The recent drought in California reminds us that access to freshwater directly impacts urban and rural development as well as resilience to environmental change,” said Prof. Matthew Rossi. “It is not only a local issue, but one that has far-reaching national and global consequences.”

Best CTEC: It’s a new course! Take it and leave a legendary CTEC of your own.

econ geo


Prof. John Hudson

MWF 10-10:50 a.m.

555 Clark B01

Description: This course looks into the geography of industry, covering topics like land use, energy resources, agriculture and trade. There's a focus on globalization and industrialization and how human economic patterns tie back into the natural world.

What to get out of this class: Junior Jacob Sherman says, "It was cool learning about different natural resources and their place of the world economy." Plus, according to him, "it's super easy."

Best CTEC: "John Crandall Hudson is hilarious in the most understated way," said Medill sophomore Morgan Kinney. "He's been teaching this class for so long that he actually just walks in and recites his lecture. If you raise your hand, he'll tell you to put it down and stop interrupting him (which sounds like a bad thing but he just really knows his stuff). Plus it's the easiest class I've ever taken, which makes it the best Medill Econ distro in my opinion."


Basics: Prof. Keith Harley

TH 3:30-6:20 p.m

Tech F281

Description: Professor Keith Harley’s position as the environmental law program director at Chicago Legal Clinic should give you an idea of his expertise on this subject. Whether or not law is your calling in life, taking this class will help students understand environmental policies regarding endangered species, climate change, water quality and more.

What to get out of this class: Prof. Harley says through this class, students will “gain an understanding of the legal context in which environmental decisions are made and view these environmental policy initiatives in light of contemporary political, scientific, economic and legal realities.”

Best CTEC: “I loved this class. Professor Harley is funny and makes a long class go fast. I felt I learned a lot - the material was specific enough to latch onto but covered a pretty broad range.”

earth 203


Prof. Gilbert Klapper

M/W/F 1:00-1:50 p.m.

Tech F285

Description: Have you been following the Land Before Time series since the beginning? Are you disappointed that the upcoming Jurassic World is a sequel instead of a prequel? Then this is the class for you! Professor Gilbert Klapper will guide you through the geological history of the Earth, with focus placed on the evolution of life (as suggested by an anonymous tip from the fossil record).

What to get out of this class: Learn about where life came from through rocks, fossils and evolution!

Best CTEC: “pretty easy and actually pretty interesting! i’m super into evolution and dinosaurs and stuff like that so it was chill. I actually went to a concert the night before the midterm and still got an A- on it, and really only studied hard one night leading up to it without really having done any of the readings prior…so grade wise, it’s not too tough :)”

earth 342


Prof. Yarrow Axford

T/TH 11:00 a.m.- 12:00 p.m.

Tech F285

Description: This class is focused around the question: How shall we power the world in the 21st century? It explores the history of energy use and industrialization and bridges the gap between energy and climate change. If you want to learn the science behind energy and climate change, this is the class to take. IMPORTANT: Only open to graduate students and undergraduate seniors majoring in natural sciences and engineering, unless by special permission.

What to get out of this class: “The class brings together graduate and senior undergraduate students from all disciplines around campus to learn the basic physical science of climate change, and to discuss energy options for the future,” said Prof. Yarrow Axford.

Best CTEC: “Great overview class on climate change. Reasonable workload. Prof. Axford is passionate about the topic and you will learn a lot. I also liked the more social classroom where discussion was encouraged. Prof. Axford is also understanding of introverts' reluctance to speak in class and provides the option to contribute via Twitter. TAKE THIS CLASS IT'S GREAT”