Winter 2016 Environmental Class Preview


By Scott Brown, Lan Nguyen, Jamie Leventhal, Annie Cebulski and Christina Cilento Everyone's winter quarter needs a little green. Scroll down to check out our preview of the environmental classes coming up and then start filling up that CAESAR shopping cart!



BIOL_SCI 104: Plant-People Interactions

Prof. Christina Russin

M/W 3:30-4:50 p.m.

Tech LR 3

Natural Sciences Distro

Description: Think before you chew! Students will get all the dirt on the roots and shoots that people consume. From farm to pharmacy, this course discusses how people began cultivating produce and using plants in their everyday lives. It's a great way to understand exactly what you're putting in your body, and to help inspire students to grow an appreciation for food, Russin brings in cookies before quizzes--chocolate chip, of course.


What to get out of this class: Professor Russin says that students will gain "an appreciation for the myriad of ways that plants are useful to humans and the larger biosphere!"


Best CTEC: Pay attention in class, take notes, and learn weird and cool things about the stuff we eat and drink. BE GOOD AT MEMORIZING, OK?


ENV_POL 211: Food and Society: An Introduction

Prof. Susan Thistle

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

Fisk Hall 217

Social and Behavioral Sciences Distro

Description: How do political, social and economical factors influence how we get our food? This course examines the history and present state of our food system through topics like the social construction of “natural foods” or how social inequality affects our choices. Food and Society: An Introduction looks at sociology from the perspective of the food we consume.

What to get out of this class: “What are we eating and what is it doing to us, animals, and the environment overall?  How did our industrial food system come into being and what alternatives exist? This course looks at how different social forces have shaped and continue to shape the way we grow, distribute and consume food, both in the United States and elsewhere around the world,” says Professor Thistle.

Best CTEC: “All in all, great class, but I do feel guilty eating strawberries now though”


CIV_ENV 394:  Public and Environmental Health

Prof. Luisa Marcelino

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

Tech L160

Description: You’re constantly going to be sick winter quarter, so why not learn about the little guys in your body who are making it happen? This class explores the spread of disease in both human society and the environment, as well as the technology we’ve developed to fight back.

What to get out of this class: “You need to know a lot of things about microbiology to take it, but I learned about things I actually come across in real life. But it made me a lot more stressed about salmonella at the grocery store,” says Anna Leenay, a Weinberg senior.

Best CTEC:Luisa is the best professor I've had at Northwestern, I learned an immense amount and every class felt applicable. The work was worth it and I honestly feel like a stronger critical thinker. Amazing, unforgettable class.”

ENV_POL 394:  Environmental NGOs

Prof. Gordon Davis

W 3-6 p.m.

Parkes 224

Description: You’ve probably seen the logos of environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) like the Sierra Club or the Worldwide Fund for Nature gracing the reuseable water bottles of your hippie friends. But what do these organizations actually do? Go in-depth to learn how ENGOs function and how they’re working to influence our society on local, national and international levels.

What to get out of this class: Besides learning the “nuts and bolts of the ways NGOs function”, Professor Davis says that this year’s class will be especially timely, focusing in on the UN COP21 climate negotiations happening this December in Paris to analyze how NGOs influenced the ultimate treaty that comes out.

Best CTEC:Gordon is so knowledgeable and is great at playing devil's advocate to challenge you to think deeply about these issues. Also, I wish Gordon was my grandfather so he could tell me stories of his youth…”


ENVR_SCI 202: The Health of the Biosphere

Prof. Joseph Walsh

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

Tech L361

Natural Sciences Distro

Description: Evolution pushes us to be fruitful and multiply. But how does human's reproductive success impact the earth? This course explores how human population growth interacts with the world, from possible plague outbreaks to the supply and demand of resources. Throw in some analysis on animal populations, sustainability, biodiversity among other topics, and you have the Health of the Biosphere.

What to get out of this class: "I think that it puts the concept of environmentalism on a big scale--a global, universal scale. It's cool to see how everything is interconnected and it gives people a perspective of how delicate the environment is," says Kara Rodby, a McCormick junior.

Best CTEC: His lectures can be a little slow-paced and dull at times, but his animal impersonations are ON POINT


ENV_POL 336: Climate Change, Policy and Society

Prof. Susan Thistle

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

Harris Hall 107

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.



BIOL_SCI 350: Plant Evolution and Diversity

Prof. Patrick Herendeen

T/Th 9-11:50 a.m.

Tech L170/DG31

Description: If you're interested in green stuff, this is the course for you. Plant Evolution and Diversity explores both dead and living plants (that's the evolution part of the course!). It's taught by Professor Patrick Herendeen, who's an adjunct with the Chicago Botanic Garden, so the class includes hands-on projects, labs and field trips outside class.

What to get out of this class: "Plants are the foundation of all terrestrial ecosystems, and they have been for over 400 million years," says Professor Patrick Herendeen. "In this course we will explore the evolutionary history and diversity of living and fossil land plants. In the lab we will examine a wide range of plant materials, both living and fossil, and we will have two field trips (Garfield Park Conservatory and Field Museum) to see plants and fossils not available on campus."

Best CTEC: "If you're interested in evolution and the history of life this is a good course. Lots of details, lots of memorization, and exams are not easy but a well-structured and well-taught course!"


ISEN 220: Intro to Energy Systems for the 21st Century

Prof. Yip-Wah Chung

MWF 1-1:50 p.m.

Annenberg G15

Natural Sciences Distro

Description: This course examines how humans use different energy sources for transportation, residential, and commercial uses globally. It also compares the pros and cons of different renewable energy sources and solutions for decreasing atmospheric carbon levels.

What to get out of this class: “I really liked ISEN 220. I thought it was designed really well so student could learned but also not be overly concerned with the stereotypical northwestern STEM grading,” says Xiaowen Yang, a SESP sophomore.

Best CTEC: “I really like Yip Wah. He has an amazing passion for the subject and does not try to screw his students over. He really wanted us to learn”


ECON 370: Environmental Natural Resource Economics

Prof. Laura Kiesling

T/TH 9:30-10:50 a.m.

Harris L07

Description: When you saw a list of environmental classes, you might have pictured lectures on Thoreau, not a class analyzing externalities and profit margins. However, you can’t propose solutions to environmental problems without understanding the underlying economic factors. (But beware: there are some prerequisites.)

What to get out of this class: This class analyzes the microeconomic factors behind issues such as pollution, endangered species and overconsumption of resources, letting you put your money where your mouth is when thinking about practical environmental solutions.

Best CTEC: “If you are looking for a class that will teach you something you should know as a human being, take this course.”


HIST 255-3: Background to African Civilization and Culture: 1875-1994

Prof. Jonathon Glassman

MWF 1-1:50 p.m.

University 102

Historical Studies Distro

Description: Environmentalism in the U.S. is often thought of as a movement dominated by passionate college students and California hippies, but what does it look like in other areas of the world? This course examines the history of Africa and how colonialism affected tradition and daily life.

What to get out of this class: Within the larger discussion of colonial changes in Africa, the course will explore environmental issues in regard to agricultural change.

Best CTEC:I did not want to take this class and felt I got stuck with it because of a bad registration time. But now, my interest in African history is truly piqued, and I hope to take Professor Glassman's history of South Africa class in the spring”

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