The Program on Global Environment and the Committee on Environment, Geography and Urbanization (CEGU) offer courses in Environmental and Urban Studies (ENST) that appeal to students in all majors. The courses explore the systematic processes and formal and informal relationships of humans to built and natural environments across the globe.
Restoration ecologists, environmental professionals, and average citizens all participate in the process of habitat restoration. How does this interdisciplinary practice balance the priorities of ecosystem function and services, conservation of imperiled species and habitats, aesthetic appeal, and human use in a dynamic climate? In this course students will gain a broad overview of the field of restoration ecology and approach it from scientific, practical, and humanistic perspectives using scientific literature, case studies, and planning documents.
Alexander Arroyo & Grga Bašić
This course introduces critical theories and techniques for visualizing interconnected transformations of urban, environmental, and planetary systems amidst the pressures of climate change, urbanization, and global economies of capitalism. Weekly lectures will introduce major themes and theoretical debates, paired with hands-on lab tutorials exploring a selection of methods in conventional and experimental geographic visualization. Thematically, the course will be organized around critical interpretations of the Anthropocene, a concept designating the epoch in which anthropogenic activities are recognized as the dominant force of planetary climatic and ecological change. We will present these interpretations through modules structured around different conceptual paradigms and alternative epochal designations (e.g. the Urbanocene, the Capitalocene, the Plantationocene). Through weekly lab exercises and a final, synthetic project, the course will move from critically analyzing prevalent theoretical frameworks, geospatial data, and associated visualization techniques to creatively visualizing critical alternatives. Students will learn how to construct visual narratives through a variety of spatial media (e.g. maps, diagrams, visual timelines), scales (e.g. bodies, neighborhoods, landscapes, the planetary), and techniques/platforms (e.g. GIS, web mapping, basic programming language tools, and vector/raster visualization programs).
Much of the cultural vibrance, economic strength, and social innovation that characterizes cities can be credited to their density. Put simply, cities bring people together, and togetherness allows for complex and fruitful exchange. But togetherness also brings risks, notably from infectious disease. A pandemic feeds on propinquity. "Social distance," while a short-term public health imperative, is antithetical to the very idea of the urban. In this seminar, we will explore these competing tensions in light of current and past disease outbreaks in urban settings. Drawing on a range of texts from history, design theory, sociology, and anthropology, as well as cultural artifacts like film, graphic memoir, and photography, we will engage questions like: How are the risks of contagion balanced with the benefits of density? How are such risks distributed throughout society? What creative responses have architects, urban designers, and planners brought to this challenge? Most importantly, how can we respond constructively to the challenge of pandemic to create cities where the benefits of togetherness are maximized, perhaps even improved on compared with the pre-outbreak condition? Students will have the opportunity to propose design or policy interventions to help their own communities respond to the coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis, return to a vibrant post-pandemic life, and prepare for the pandemics of the future.
This course is an applied learning experience in which students explore the many dimensions of Chicago neighborhoods, with a particular focus on the built environment and how it impacts - and is impacted by - the social and economic life of the city. Students will observe, interpret and represent neighborhoods through a series of exercises designed to deepen knowledge about the significance and meaning of neighborhood form. Readings and fieldwork will engage students in neighborhood analysis and observation techniques that explore contemporary issues about public life, diversity, and social equity. This course is part of the College Course Cluster, Urban Design.
How do great writers convey sense-of-place in their writing? What are the best ways to communicate scientific and social complexity in an engaging, accessible way? How can we combine academic rigor with journalistic verve and literary creativity to drive the public conversation about urgent environmental and urban issues? These are just some of the questions explored in WRITING THE CITY, an intensive course dedicated to honing our skills of verbal communication about issues related to the built and natural environments. Students will research, outline, draft, revise, and ultimately produce a well-crafted piece of journalistic writing for publication in the program's new annual magazine, Expositions. Throughout the quarter we will engage intensely with a range of authors of place-based writing exploring various literary and journalistic techniques, narrative devices, rhetorical approaches, and stylistic strategies.
This course is a grand tour of conceptual frameworks, general phenomena, emerging data and policy applications that define a growing scientific integrated understanding of cities and urbanization. It starts with a general outlook of current worldwide explosive urbanization and associated changes in social, economic and environmental indicators. It then introduces a number of historical models, from sociology, economics and geography that have been proposed to understand how cities operate. We will discuss how these and other facets of cities can be integrated as dynamical complex systems and derive their general characteristics as social networks embedded in structured physical spaces. Resulting general properties of cities will be illustrated in different geographic and historical contexts, including an understanding of urban resource flows, emergent institutions and the division of labor and knowledge as drivers of innovation and economic growth. The second part of the course will deal with issues of inequality, heterogeneity and (sustainable) growth in cities. We will explore how these features of cities present different realities and opportunities to different individuals and how these appear as spatially concentrated (dis)advantage that shape people's life courses. We will show how issues of inequality also have consequences at more macroscopic levels and derive the general features of population and economic growth for systems of cities and nations.
This course examines the historical and geographical roots of American regional diversity and national spatial organization, from 1500 to 1920, and asks why American regions have developed and retained distinctive characteristics-and what consequences this has had for contemporary society. These issues are pursued through an examination of colonization processes, economic development, spatial differentiation, settlement patterns and the changing role of cities. The emphasis is on the kind and quantity of European cultural transfer, physical changes wrought by colonization, the modification of natural environments, the conquest of distance, and the general approach of American society to the uses of space. This course requires no prerequisites. There will be an all-day field trip in the Chicago region.
This course combines basic microeconomic theory and tools with contemporary environmental and resources issues and controversies to examine and analyze public policy decisions. Theoretical points include externalities, public goods, common-property resources, valuing resources, benefit/cost analysis, and risk assessment. Topics include pollution, global climate change, energy use and conservation, recycling and waste management, endangered species and biodiversity, nonrenewable resources, congestion, economic growth and the environment, and equity impacts of public policies.
The goal of this survey course is to analyze the impact of the human enterprise on the world that sustains it. Topics include human population dynamics and historical trends in global impact, with most of the course focusing on how humans have altered the Earth system through a variety of processes (including climate change, air, water, nutrient cycling, pollution/novel entities, biodiversity, and land use). We read and discuss diverse sources, write short analytical papers, and a final argument based research paper.
This colloquium is designed to aid students in their thesis research. Students are exposed to different conceptual frameworks and research strategies.