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Winter 2012 Class Descriptions

As of 11/29/2015 5:27:55 AM

How to Save the Planet

How to save the planet, or, at least, get started trying!

This class is a broad survey of the major players and the leading policies of the U.S. environmental movement from the start of the 20th century up to the current day. Beginning with the debates in the early 1900s surrounding the damming of Hetch Hetchy and continuing through the publication of Silent Spring in the 1960s, the course looks at the opposing theoretical impulses underlying environmentalism to set the context for understanding differing perspectives in environmental policy. The course also examines current environmental policy-making, focusing on current proposals in the U.S. Congress concerning global warming and climate change. The final portion of the course examines the steps necessary to achieve a more inclusive environmental movement that involves people of diverse backgrounds and businesses in ways that harness market forces to conserve and protect the environment.

The course emphasizes developing skills necessary to be an effective practitioner. There is no final exam and no final paper. Instead, each student will write a 1,000-word paper each week based on that week's readings. Students post their papers to C-tools in advance of each class session and will receive a grade and individual feedback later that week. There will be an opportunity to rewrite three papers throughout the course of the semester. The format of the assignments vary from memos to political and business leaders, speeches, op-eds for local and national newspapers, and news articles. Typically, roughly half of each class session will include a small-group, break-out exercise based on the completed assignments due that week and followed by a group presentation. Students are expected to attend classes and to participate in the small group exercises; cumulatively, one-third of the course grade will be based on class participation, with the remaining two-thirds based on the twelve papers. Students who enroll in this course are strongly encouraged to have laptop computers, since there will be on-line interactions during the class sessions, as well as electronic communications between classes.

Previous exposure to environmental law or environmentalism is helpful, but not required, for success in this course. I encourage people without such background to take this course in order to enrich the variety of perspectives reflected in class participation. Students with diverse political, economic and social perspectives are encouraged to enroll, as the more diverse the class, the more interesting the discussion! There are no right answers, just lots of ideas.

3.00 hours
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