ENVIRON 139 - First-Year Seminar in the Environment
Section: 001 Footprints Across Time
Term: FA 2010
Subject: Program in the Environment (ENVIRON)
Department: LSA Environment
Course Note:
Seminar on environmental topics for first-year students.
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
Advisory Prerequisites:
Enrollment restricted to first-year students, including those with sophomore standing.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

Today, we humans are more numerous than ever before — and we consume more per person than ever before. How did we get here, and what (if we wish) can we do about it? In this course, we will examine how humans have left their imprint — ‘footprints’ — on the earth. We begin by calculating our individual ecological footprints: how many planets would it take for the human population if everyone lived as you, or I, do? Then we find a very general definition for “resources,” one that does not depend on culture or modernity. Next, we will trace our pre-human and human ecological footprints across time. First, why do we care more about ourselves, our families and friends, and the here-and-now, than about distant strangers or the far future? What differences did it make that we tamed fire? That we invented agriculture, and that it spread around the globe? That we harnessed mechanical energy, and solved some major public health problems? We will find that each of these inventions or transitions allowed us to survive better, to raise families more successfully, and to consume ever more of the earth’s resources. Today, we are one of millions of species, but we consume the vast majority of the earth’s productivity, and have a huge impact on those other species. And even within our species, there are huge differences in wealth and resources. After our trek across time, we will ask: what can we do to be effective in reducing our human impact?

ENVIRON 139 - First-Year Seminar in the Environment
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
M 4:00PM - 5:30PM
W 4:00PM - 5:30PM
003 (SEM)
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM
020 (SEM)
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
Note: Seats in First Year Seminars are opened gradually during Summer Orientation. Only 1st-yr students, including those with soph std, may register.
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