The Physics of Sustainability|
Fall 2011 not offered
This course explores the physical constraints imposed upon human activity from a point of view that expands as the semester progresses. We first examine the determining role played by energy, exploring its various forms and working out the limits on its use imposed by the Second Law of Thermodynamics. We will then get particular and inventory the various resources available to humanity. We will attempt to assess likely future availability of these resources in both the near and far term, developing a Web-based compendium of information. Experts from a variety of fields will be brought in throughout the semester to add depth and different perspectives to our studies. To keep our work from being a sterile exercise, we will arrive at recommendations and call them to the attention of appropriate audiences. To facilitate this, we will be joined by actors from ArtFarm, who will coach students in performance skills so that we can become effective advocates of informed policies of sustainability. No particular science experience is required, but students need to be prepared for and unafraid of algebraic manipulations, large volumes of factual information, public action, and hard work.
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Seminar||Grading Mode: Student Option|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (CIVI-MN)(ENVS-MN)(ENVS)
Two or three books will be required for primary study. Other readings will be assigned from lay scientific journals, such as Science News.
|Examinations and Assignments: |
There will be regular written assignments, three quizzes, a major paper, and an oral presentation.
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments: |
This course is a freshman seminar course with a substantial discussion component that will be included as part of your grade. Appropriate discussion, primarily through the readings, will be required.
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