Having endorsed systems theory and systems analysis—and having recognized that all life exists and develops within complex, dynamic systems that are hybrids of human and natural processes, we must address scale problems if we are to understand sustainability.
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the field of urban sociology by exploring the history and current conditions of cities. This course will be geared toward viewing the city as a simultaneously social, cultural, and political economic phenomenon, with particular attention to the following: a) urbanization and the structure of cities; b) suburbanization; c) sustainable urban growth and economics; d) race and segregation; e) immigration; g) culture; h) gender and sexuality; i) gentrification and housing policy; j) environmental justice; and k) sustainable communities.
This course asks students to examine what we talk about when we talk about “dirt,” and how do the things we communicate about dirt change its presence in our lives. The major assignments facilitate learning goals through four units: dirt vs. soil, earthworks, dirt stories, and trendy dirt. The primary texts in this course will largely deal with a North American perspective on dirt. We will engage with American film (ex: Grapes of Wrath, Waterworld, Noma, Interstellar, The Martian, the Mad Max megaverse), and contemporary American literature.
Biodiversity Dynamics will be a project-based course will explore where plants and animals live on the landscape, and how and why they move or evolve in response to environmental changes and human impacts. We will use real species, landscape, climate, and human impact data to explore biogeographic rules, such as the latitudinal & elevation diversity gradients. We will also learn about how landscape ecologists use species distribution models and corridor models for conservation purposes.
In Class, Power, and Inequality, students will explore the causes and consequences of economic inequality in the United States and abroad. In particular, this course will help students understand why inequality between individuals and communities occurs, with major focuses on changes in the economy and social forces like politics, culture, and religion. Further, we pay particular attention to how gender and race/ethnicity shape economic inequality.
Semester in the City: Engaging Westside Communities
“Semester in the City” seeks to familiarize students with nearby Westside communities that have historically faced, and continue to face serious sustainability challenges – even as they continue to develop significant strategies for positive change. Students learn how ecological, social, and economic systems have operated in these neighborhoods and explore how policy and community mobilization approaches might be re-envisioned to improve liveability.
This course is part of the Vertically Integrated Projects program, where students get credit for working on ongoing projects over multiple semesters. As part of the Bee-SNAP team, students will design devices and computational approaches to study bees in urban habitats. Predictions and models developed using these approaches will be validated with biological field studies. Bees are important pollinators and efficient pollination is critical to our food supply. Should bees become threatened in urban areas, food security could be at risk.