Why is Climate Change Un-believable? Interdisciplinary Approaches to Environmental Action

Course Description

The science is there. The evidence is there. Why do people still refuse to recognize one of the greatest threats to human existence? Why can't, why won't they believe the truth? The time to act is slowly evaporating before our eyes. To answer this question requires an interdisciplinary approach that investigates many of the ways global warming has been analyzed, imagined, represented, and evaluated. Thus we welcome students of any major willing to embark on this common project and to participate fully. We will challenge ourselves to move between and amongst texts that are familiar and those we will bring into the conversation. There will be much that we miss, but we hope this course will at least begin a serious conversation in a unique way.

The course will run on two parallel tracks: on the one hand, we will delve into textual representations and arguments; on the other hand, we will attempt to develop a sensibility for how climate change makes itself manifest in the physical world through a series of workshops and site visits in the Bay Area. The first track of this course will center on the discussion of three science fiction novels: The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh, The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu, and Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. The second track of this course is comprised of a series of workshops that aims to develop spatial and material literacy relevant to climate change awareness. It will engage topics such as: scale, atmosphere, measure, material reciprocity, and garbage repurposing. One of the primary goals of this course is to not only understand the problem of climate change, but also how to best act upon it. Thus the required final assignment for this class can be a recommendation for action based on a critical review of the topic of climate change and already existing activism. It can take the form of a paper, a video, an installation art project, a podcast, etc.. But in all cases your work must analytically engage the specific medium of literary expression.

Course Details

  • Class Number: 20921
  • 2021 Schedule: TuTh 12:30PM - 1:50PM PDT
  • Online Format - Synchronous: This course is taught in real-time, and students are expected to attend virtual sessions at specific times during the week.
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