The Physics of Sustainability|
Spring 2012 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.
Effective Citizenship, Information Literacy
The literature on the physical requirements of human activity is vast, conflicting, and highly variable in quality. It will be our task to sort the wheat from the chaff while avoiding becoming overwhelmed. All this work will inform our own decisions as citizens and motivate us to educate others so that they too may make informed decisions.
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Seminar||Grading Mode: Student Option|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (CIVI-MN)(ENVS-MN)(ENVS)
Kenneth Deffeyes, BEYOND OIL
Lester Brown, PLAN B
Numerous readings from recent and not-so-recent literature
|Examination and Assignments: |
Problem sets, civic action, writing assignments, lots of reading, web page preparation.
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments: |
A weekly evening workshop will also be scheduled.
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