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Special Topics: Environmental Sociology

Natural science can tell us what causes climate change. Engineering gives us the technologies we need to curb climate change. Sociology can explain why, despite having the knowledge and know-how, very little is being done about it. Environmental sociology explores the nexus of human and environmental systems. People exist on Earth and require its resources for survival, but they also exist in constructed social systems that constrain and guide human behavior.

Drawing on Nature

Our research begins with  a series of direct observation drawing exercises focusing on gesture, proportion, scale, perspective, and composition, followed by studies of master draftsmen such as Michelangelo, Raphael, and da Vinci.  Their great skill as artists was a direct manifestation of their knowledge of plants, animals, scientific principles, and the human figure.  We then are joined by professors from the School of Biology and invited experts, who discuss our drawing observations and help direct our research agenda.

Environmental Geochemistry

Geochemical processes are central to a variety of environmental issues, including the distribution of CO2 on Earth, water quality and the transformation and storage of inorganic and organic contaminants from human activity. 

Foundational Technologies in the Manufacture of Forest Bioproducts

A bio-based economy is emphasized in the course and how renewable resources may be used for the future of the world to replace fossil-based products and materials and energy sources.

Sustainable Business Consulting Practicum

Sustainability from a business perspective encompasses environmental and social performance that collectively drives significant corporate value.  Increasingly, the manner in which companies interact with communities (whether on environmental or social issues) determines the success or failure of company activities.  In this course, the consulting projects frequently involve important elements of community engagement as themes and potential areas of student recommendations.

Macroeconomics of Innovation

The economy and the environment are tightly linked.  In this course, we explore the interconnections between economic activity and environmental stewardship, illustrate the perils of unchecked economic growth, and study possible solutions and policy interventions needed to ensure that economic development is achieved in a sustainable way.

Technology and Poverty

This course encourages students to think about how they might design technologies with a focus on global development, paying special attention to the needs of underserved, under-resourced, and under-represented communities across the world.

Managing Human Resources in a Regulated Environment

During this course, we discuss important concepts such as the legal aspects of HR, training, selection recruitment, turnover, and performance among other topics. In addition, this course covers important emerging HR trends, including how organizations manage sustainability initiatives and corporate social responsibility. 

Science, Technology & Society: Core Seminar

Science, Technology and Society (STS) - also called Science and Technology Studies - is an interdisciplinary field of study that seeks to understand how science and technology shape society and culture and how society and culture, in turn, shape the development of science and technology.  These are fundamental issues that underlie questions of sustainability and community especially when developing technology solutions that depend on knowledge of social and environmental context.  This course explores key topics, debates, and theoretical perspectives ion STS.

Environmental Measures

Prior to 2008, most of the world’s population lived in rural areas. Since then, and perhaps for the rest of human history, cities will be the dominant form of human habitation on this planet. It is therefore imperative that urban places are healthful and desirable. But how does one know if a city is healthy? What are the “vital signs” that indicate that everything is okay? These manufactured environments require enormous energy and material resources and create tremendous quantities and concentrations of wastes. Are they sustainable?

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