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Course Descriptions

As of 1/15/2021 5:52:16 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 various 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 legislative proposals to address 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 ways in which to engage businesses in harnessing market forces to conserve and protect the environment.

This course emphasizes developing skills necessary to be an effective advocate. While the content relates to the environment, the structure of the course is designed to improve advocacy skills for any subject. There is no final exam and no final paper. Instead, each student will write a 2,000-word paper for each of the seven sessions (the class meets biweekly on alternating weeks) based on that session's readings. Students are required to post their papers to CTools in advance of each class session and will receive a grade and individual feedback later that week. There will be an opportunity to rewrite two papers throughout the course of the semester. The format of the assignments varies from memos to political and business leaders, legislative testimony, and opinion essays for local and national newspapers. Typically, approximately half of each class meeting will include a small-group, break-out exercise based on the completed assignments due earlier that week and will be followed by a group presentation. Students are expected to attend all 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 seven papers. Students who enroll in this course are strongly encouraged to have laptop computers, since there will be on-line interactions during 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. Students without such background are encouraged to enroll in order to enrich the variety of perspectives reflected in class participation. Students with diverse political, economic and social perspectives are also encouraged to enroll as the more diverse the class, the more interesting the discussion!