Course Number

FSEM 181

Course Title

Earth Society and Sustainability

Course Date

Fall 2018

Course Level


Professor or Professors' Departmental/Program Affiliation

Peter Klepeis, Geography

Document Type



First-Year Seminar


People have always modified nature, but the scale of environmental change over the last 300 years is unprecedented. Many scholars now refer to the industrial age as the anthropocene; akin to a geologic force, society now has the capacity to alter the very structure and function of the biosphere. Drawing on environmental history, multidisciplinary nature-society research, and case studies from around the world, the course investigates a broad range of environmental issues–including tropical deforestation, natural resource consumption, and the global food system. Students are pressed to question their assumptions about resource use and environmental change dynamics, and consider how society should shape future environments. Is sustainable development possible? Along with films,discussion, role-playing, lectures, and a diverse mix of scholarly and popular press readings, students engage the subject via Jim Sterba’s Nature Wars and Mark Whitehead’s Environmental Transformations.


The syllabus may not be applicable to the current semester. Be sure to verify content with the professor(s) listed in the document.