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701-0019-00L  Readings in Environmental Thinking

SemesterHerbstsemester 2016
DozierendeJ. Ghazoul, G. Hirsch Hadorn, A. Patt
Periodizitätjährlich wiederkehrende Veranstaltung

KurzbeschreibungThis course introduces students to foundational texts that led to the emergence of the environment as a subject of scientific importance, and shaped its relevance to society. Above all, the course seeks to give confidence and raise enthusiasm among students to read more widely around the broad subject of environmental sciences and management both during the course and beyond.
LernzielThe course will provide students with opportunities to read, discuss, evaluate and interpret key texts that have shaped the environmental movement and, more specifically, the environmental sciences. Students will gain familiarity with the foundational texts, but also understand the historical context within which their academic and future professional work is based. More directly, the course will encourage debate and discussion of each text that is studied, from both the original context as well as the modern context. In so doing students will be forced to consider and justify the current societal relevance of their work.
InhaltThe course will be run as a ‘book reading club’. The first session will provide a short introduction as to how to explore a particular text (that is not a scientific paper) to identify the key points for discussion.

Thereafter, in each week a text (typically a chapter from a book or a paper) considered to be seminal or foundational will be assigned by a course lecturer. The lecturer will introduce the selected text with a brief background of the historical and cultural context in which it was written, with some additional biographical information about the author. He/she will also briefly explain the justification for selecting the particular text.

The students will read the text, with two to four students (depending on class size) being assigned to present it at the next session. Presentation of the text requires the students to prepare by, for example:
• identifying the key points made within the text
• identifying issues of particular personal interest and resonance
• considering the impact of the text at the time of publication, and its importance now
• evaluating the text from the perspective of our current societal and environmental position

Such preparation would be supported by a mid-week ‘tutorial’ discussion (about 1 hour) with the assigning lecturer.

These students will then present the text (for about 15 minutes) to the rest of the class during the scheduled class session, with the lecturer facilitating the subsequent class discussion (about 45 minutes). Towards the end of the session the presenting students will summarise the emerging points (5 minutes) and the lecturer will finish with a brief discussion of how valuable and interesting the text was (10 minutes). In the remaining 15 minutes the next text will be presented by the assigning lecturer for the following week.
LiteraturThe specific texts selected for discussion will vary, but examples include:
Leopold (1949) A Sand County Almanach
Carson (1962) Silent Spring
Egli, E. (1970) Natur in Not. Gefahren der Zivilisationslandschaft
Lovelock (1979) Gaia: A new look at life on Earth
Naess (1973) The Shallow and the Deep.
Roderick F. Nash (1989) The Rights of Nature
Jared Diamond (2005) Collapse
Robert Macfarlane (2007) The Wild Places

Discussions might also encompass films or other forms of media and communication about nature.