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Semester: Not Offered
Faculty: William Clark
This is a research seminar on the core theories of sustainability science -- an emerging field of problem-driven research dealing with the interactions between human and environmental systems. The problem that motivates the course, and the field, is the challenge of sustainability: improving the well-being of present and future generations in ways that conserve the planet's life support systems. The seminar will engage in a critical discussion of the underlying theory of the field, focusing on contemporary interdisciplinary research papers drawing from the natural and social sciences, health, and engineering. It will use this theoretical perspective to evaluate case studies of efforts to manage particular coupled human-environment systems. In order to bring multiple perspectives to bear on the theory and applications of sustainability science, the seminar will be conducted as a distributed effort involving faculty and students at four universities recognized as leaders in sustainability science (Harvard, Columbia, University of Minnesota, and Arizona State University). One session each week will be held jointly, with all participants linked through web conferencing technology. The second session each week will be conducted by each university on its own to promote more focused discussion. For each joint session, a leader in the field will be brought in through video as a virtual lecturer. An interdisciplinary team of students drawn from across the participating universities will prepare and present a formal critique of the readings and lecture of the week. All students will be expected to contribute regularly to an on-line discussion of the lectures and assigned literature. Students taking the course for credit will also prepare a term paper critically reviewing the literature of a dimension of sustainability science and applying that literature to their own interests or research. Prerequisites: This is primarily a doctoral seminar. Other students with research training and experience may enroll with written permission of the instructors. Auditors will be admitted if space allows, conditional on a commitment to participate fully in the course.
Also offered by the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology as OEB 264, but not offered in 2012-13.