the urban environment


Course overview

The overall goal of this course is to explore the wide variety of topics that fall under the rubric of the ‘urban environment’. While many classes in both the physical and social sciences touch on the environmental and ecological impacts of urban areas, the full range of concepts required for understanding coupled human-environment interactions within cities are often not fully explored. This seminar will provide an overview of the environmental issues facing urban areas, a review of the fundamental theories, concepts, and tools for developing successful responses to these problems, and a discussion of the interdisciplinary perspective needed to tackle unanswered questions about the sustainability of urban systems. Topics will include the biophysical dimensions of environmental change (urban climate, the water cycle, landscape change) as well as the human aspects of these modifications (urban demographics, urban sprawl, transportation/land use dynamics, adaptation and resilience, urban health).

Course details

Students who take this course should be motivated individuals with a sincere interest in learning more about urban areas from an environmental perspective. The course is designed for students pursuing a graduate degree in environmental studies, urban planning, geography, land and water resources, environmental engineering, agricultural economics, and rural sociology, however students outside these disciplines will not be discouraged from taking this class. Exceptional undergraduate students will be admitted on a case by case basis (please email me).

Rather than adhere to the common reading/discussion format of most graduate seminars, this course will have a slightly unique structure. Throughout the 16 weeks of the semester, classes will be split equally between formal lecture and group discussions. Class participants (i.e. you) will prepare and present more than half of the lectures (Tuesdays), followed by discussion of the week’s lecture and readings (Thursdays). The class will not culminate in a final paper, but instead emphasize presentation skills, lecture development, and ways of learning (i.e. presenting to/instructing audiences with varying backgrounds and levels of understanding). While the weekly topics will focus on breadth of knowledge, this lecture assignment will serve as each student’s in-depth study on a specific topic.

Course number: Env St 401

Instructor: Annemarie Schneider
Credit hours: 3
Offered: periodically


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