Fall 2016 Environmental Class Preview


[fbshare type="button"] [twitter style="horizontal" float="left"] ION Class Preview Fall 2016 cover photo By Morgan McFall-Johnsen and Hyunjee Lee

Although it might seem light years away from now, soon it will be fall quarter again. Before registration, preview the environment-related classes that are being offered in September.


CIV_ENG 303 / ENVR_POL 390: Environmental Law and Policy

Prof. Keith Harley

Th 5-7:50 p.m.

Tech LG76

Description: You will learn all about environmental laws and how to apply them in real situations.

Best CTEC: "Amazing speaker! Professor Harley was able to keep me engaged the entire 3 hours. The class is very interesting, Harley is super nice, and he honestly tries to help everyone get an A in the class."


CIV_ENG 361: Environmental Microbiology

Prof. Luisa Marcelino

M/W 2-3:50 p.m.

Tech L150

Juniors/Seniors only

Description: You will read and discuss case studies and have lecture about microbes and their ubiquity in society.

Best CTEC: "I really enjoyed this course and it gave me some home for understanding biology. It helped me to connect to other classes i was taking. Take this course, marcelino is bae."

CIV_ENG 368: Sustainability - Issues and Actions, Near and Far

Prof. Kimberly Gray

T 3:30-6:30 p.m.

Tech A110

Instructor consent required

Description: There are weekly readings but you will get to work on projects that are relevant to sustainability in the real world and apply the readings. This class will help you look at different aspects of and define “sustainability,” a term that is so widely used that it is often hard to define.

Best CTEC: "Great class! The weekly workload was very light - just a short (1-2 page) paper on some readings each week, as well as work on the final group project. The group project was the highlight of the course for me, which for our class was designing a theoretical eco-community in the Lake Calumet area of Chicago. Very fun"

EARTH 101: Earth Science for the 21st Century

Prof. Steven Dollard Jacobsen

T/Th 11 a.m.-12:20 p.m.

Tech AUD

Natural Sciences Distro

Description: This course introduces students to Earth science through topical lectures and discussion of current events and research in Earth science. Topics include formation, evolution, structure, and composition of the Earth, plate tectonics and the rock cycle, the water cycle, climate change, paleoclimate, peak oil and fracking, renewable energy, nuclear fuel cycle and policy, geology of the National Parks, and job prospects in Earth science.

Best CTEC: “Take this course if you know what is good for you. Professor Steven Jacobsen will give you the will, the know-how, and the knowledge necessary to succeed not only in Earth Science 101 but also in life. For this, I am eternally grateful. It's as if along the path of teaching Introductory Earth Science, Professor Jacobsen is also fulfilling the important task of acting as a guiding hand for students he so obviously cares about. You will never regret the decision to take this course as you may learn something, not only about Earth Science, but also about yourself. Great people have a way of bringing out the best in others, and it is with my deepest sincerity that I say you will look up to Professor Jacobsen as a true role model, a man fitting of being what I would deem a true leader, inspirer, father, and educator.”

EARTH 342 / ISEN 410: Topics in Contemporary Energy and Climate Change

Prof. Yarrow Axford

T,Th 11a.m.-12:20p.m.

Tech F285

Natural Sciences Distro

Only open to graduate students and undergraduate seniors majoring in natural sciences and engineering, unless by special permission.

Description: The increasing worldwide demand for energy presents a number of complex interdisciplinary challenges, from resource depletion to climate change. This class will challenge students to answer the question, How shall we power the world in the 21st century? We will examine the history and geography of energy use; links between energy and climate change; challenge of sustainability; and the fundamental science of climate change.

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”

ENVR_POL 212: Environment and Society

Prof. Susan Thistle

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

Fisk 217

Social and Behavioral Sciences Distro

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 you 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 sophomore Hyunjee Lee.

Best CTEC: If you are able to summarize readings, you will do well in this class. The information presented is quite interesting: this course presents different views of environmental problems, not the science behind them. If you're interested in how our generation will solve the climate crisis, take this class.”

ENVR_POL 332: Native Americans and Environmental Decision Making

Prof. Douglas L. Medin

T/Th 11 a.m.-12:20 p.m.

Swift 210

Social and Behavioral Sciences Distro

New class! Description: This course will focus on the relationship peoples have with nature, with a particular focus on Native Americans and the environment. The course will cover stereotypes like that of the "ecological Indian." Did the colonial powers find a pristine environment when they arrived in America? Did Native Americans have a special spiritual connection with nature? Do Native Americans today also have this same spiritual connection? You will read two books with conflicting viewpoints, respond to readings, conduct various mini-research projects and write a final analytical paper.

ENVR_POL 336: Climate Change, Policy and Society

Prof. Susan Thistle

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

Locy Hall 111

Social and Behavioral Sciences Distro

Description: "Climate change is a disaster, the worst environmental problem facing the earth: sea levels will rise, glaciers are vanishing, horrific storms will hit everywhere.  What can be done to reduce climate change and to adapt to its impacts? Climate justice, divides between the global North and South, social movements, climate deniers, and the role of the market and regulations are addressed,” says  Professor Thistle.


ENVR_SCI 203 / CIV_ENG 203: Energy and the Environment

Prof. Neal Blair

T/Th 2-3:20 p.m. 

Tech Lecture Room 4

Natural Sciences Distro

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: Intro to Sustainability: Challenges and Solutions

Prof. Seth W Snyder

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

Annenberg G15

Social and Behavioral Sciences Distro

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.

Best CTEC: “Overall a pretty good class, and I think it will be even better in future years as both the ISEN program and the teaching staff become more settled. This is definitely more business focused than one might expect, so it is good for the STEM folk if you're looking to branch out without having to take strict econ classes.”

PHIL 254: Introduction to Philosophy of Natural Sciences

Prof. Axel Mueller

M/W 9:30-10:50 a.m.

Kresge 2-410

Ethics & Values Distro

Description: What does it take for a system of sentences to count as a good scientific theory? What does it take for a given theory to be better supported by the available evidence than its competitors? We will begin with a brief overview of the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries, and then turn to the treatment of certain problems in the contemporary literature, like the problem of induction, the problem of the underdetermination of theory choice by the available data, the problem of rationality and conceptual change, the problem of realism.

Best CTEC: "This course took very little work (basically I didn't do anything but attend class and write the papers), but I found the material quite interesting and definitely changed the way I view science."