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Examines recent and ongoing discoveries that show how the natural sciences are revolutionizing understanding of the human past across temporal and geographic boundaries. Topics include how archaeology, history and science illuminate and are illuminated by Jomon Pottery, ancient and medieval coins,...
For many Long Islanders, the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy was a wakeup call, adding urgency to a nascent discussion about Long Island's vulnerability to storm surge, sea level rise, and heavy rain events that regularly overwhelm an antiquated sewer system. But when Sandy struck, Long...
How have humans shaped the environment and how has the environment shaped humans throughout their (pre)history? We will explore key theories and case studies and students will further explore these questions through independent research.
This course examines our changing view of the Earth and the environment from the 19th century to the present, highlighting the interrelatedness of science, society, and culture. Our changing understanding of the Earth - as our home planet has become older, more dynamic, and more vulnerable to human...
The seminar will provide a historical perspective on the development of the Chinese economy with emphasis on the energy sector, including analysis of related environmental problems. Energy options available for China’s future will be discussed, including opportunities for clean-coal technology,...
The exhuberant and delicate tropical nature of Brazilian territory was ravaged by the predatory practices of colonialism and its aftermath. Contemporary culture is trying to come to terms with this ruthless past.
The atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is now the highest it has been in at least 800,000 years, raising concerns regarding possible future climate changes. This seminar will survey the science of global change from the perspective of scientific debates within climate community. Specifically...
This course will examine future climate change in the context of Earth history, and then consider various strategies for what might be done to deal with it. The likely impacts of continued greenhouse gas emissions will be explored, emphasizing the scientific uncertainties associated with various...
The course provides an overview of the energy resources that we use to sustain our global economies, and explores the impact of these activities on our environment. We address the full life cycle of each energy resource, including its origins, methods used to explore for and exploit it, how it is...
This course explores state-of-the-art research, tools and measurements used to investigate and predict climate change through ongoing studies at the Harvard Forest’s 3,000-acre outdoor laboratory in Petersham, MA. The seminar consists of three weekend long field trips (Friday evening-Sunday) to the...
North America as an evolving visual environment is analyzed as a systems concatenation involving such constituent elements as farms, small towns, shopping malls, highways, suburbs, and as depicted in fiction, poetry, cartography, television, cinema, and advertising and cybernetic simulation.
A solution to the problems set by the intersection of global energy demand and climate feedbacks requires the teaching of physics and chemistry in that context. Core topics include thermodynamics, free energy, entropy, acid-base and oxidation-reduction reactions, electrochemistry, electromagnetic...
Europeans “discovered” America in search of foodstuffs, specifically spices. And food has been central to the American experience from the starving time in early Virginia to the problem of obesity in the United States today. But what is American about American food? How have individual food choices...
This course concentrates on photographing the landscape, both urban and natural, from the point-of-view of an environmental journalist. Students are required to shoot outdoors each week at various times during the day, in the pre-dawn light, and at night. Topics and homework exercises include light...
We need an army of skilled change managers to navigate the complexity and urgency of our global environmental crisis. To inspire and enable people of all persuasions to engage in effective sustainability leadership, as part of an existing or new career path, this course enhances individual change...
This course covers the chemistry and physics underlying molecular phenomena in the world around you. Starting from a single electron, we will build up to atoms, molecules, and materials. We will study interactions of molecules through thermochemistry, equilibria, entropy and free energy, acids and...
This generation inherited transportation systems that have an impact on climate change and cause a number of negative health effects. We want students to understand the existing transportation systems and the environmental and health impact of each. From this knowledge, students can choose to use...
Human activity has changed the atmosphere and altered terrestrial and marine ecosystems on a global scale for the first time in history. Evidence is mounting that these changes may already be having serious effects on human health, and there is growing concern that in coming decades the effects...
This course introduces students to the science of climate change, drawing attention to the latest research and evolving pattern of scientific data on climate that has emerged in recent years. In addition, emphasis is given to analyzing the social changes and adaptations that human communities have...
Over the past half century, human rights law and environmental law have made great strides largely independently of one another. This clinical seminar will explore a growing field that seeks to bring the two together. Students will examine how the separate legal frameworks intersect and analyze the...
Many important marine fish stocks are over-harvested and their futures are in doubt. Other human activities, such as pollution and anthropogenic climate change, are also affecting the stability and productivity of marine ecosystems. This course will ask what we need to know about the causes and...
Introduces students to the fluid Earth, emphasizing Earth’s weather and climate, the carbon cycle, and global environmental change. Course begins with the physical concepts necessary for understanding the structure, motion and energy balance of the atmosphere, ocean, and cryosphere, and then...
Focuses on the effect of the environment in film. Reads films grouped according to environmental themes (humans, nature and animals, water, consumption, pollution, climate change) side by side with critical articles. Pays special attention to the relation between space, place and the planet,...
This course is a sequel to Human Ecology, GHP 253-fall II. It will be run as a semi-seminar course with about 1/3 lecture, 2/3 student-led discussions and reports. Themes: The Eco-social Distress Syndrome, a multidimensional imbalance between our species and the rest of nature against the...
The Geopolitics of Energy examines the intersection between international security, politics, and energy issues. The course begins with the recognition that energy has long been a major determinant of power in the international system and that every shift in global energy patterns has brought with...
While the Los Angeles River may drift and turn before dispensing its waters into the Pacific Ocean, the sound of its rushing flows are now reverberating through California?s capital and across the country, in the halls of Congress. As staunch supporters to raise one billion dollars for restoring...
Natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods, claim thousands of lives and cause tens of billions of dollars in damage each year. Moreover, changes in Earth’s climate are raising sea level, changing precipitation patterns, and likely causing an increase in the occurrence of...
Focuses on how the environment is inscribed in works drawing on concepts from poststructuralist theories. Texts by Guattari, Latour, Nancy, Balibar, Ranciere, Stengers, Haraway, Heise, and others. Students are encouraged to pair their readings with fictional texts and other media.
An overview of the Earth's energy and material resources. Following introductions to hydrocarbons, nuclear fuels, and other economically important ores, the course emphasizes methods used to exploit these resources and the environmental impacts of these operations. Topics include: coal and acid...
Investigations of the natural world have focused on different concepts at different historical moments. In America, for instance, the notion of "wilderness" was most prevalent in the late-nineteenth century; that of "environment" became central in the twentieth; and, from the postwar era to the...
Prerequisite: A few operations of calculus are developed and used. Fluency in pre-calculus secondary school mathematics is assumed. Students are expected to have AP or honors level high school chemistry, or have completed Life and Physical Sciences A (LPS A) with a satisfactory grade.Physical...
The story of Earth from the inception of the universe at the Big Bang to the revolution in planetary function and capability associated with the rise of human civilization. The aim of the course is to place human beings in a universal and planetary context, and to see the steps in planetary...
The seminar will provide an account of the technologies that shape our world with a perspective on how they evolved, the benefits that ensued, and the environmental challenges that arose as a consequence. Topics include prospects for renewable energy and options to minimize damage from conventional...
This course provides an introduction to the physical and chemical impacts of energy choices on human society and natural ecosystems. Topics will include the carbon cycle, climate, air and water pollution, impacts of energy systems on health, land use consequences of energy technologies, and nuclear...
How are we to make sense of the high-stakes debates about the environment today? In attempting to answer this question, this course focusses on the rhetoric and not the science of environmentalism. We will look at what happens when the impressions of a naturalist or the findings of a scientist are...
This general microbiology course will focus on the genetics, cell biology, and physiology of microorganisms. The goal of this course is to give the students a broad overview of microbial physiology in the context of disease and environmental applications. The course will primarily consist of...

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  • [Course titles in brackets] indicate that the course is not scheduled to be taught during the 2014-2015 academic year, but may be offered in an alternate year.
  • An asterisk (*) before a course number indicates that a student must obtain the instructor's permission in order to enroll in the course.

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Center for the Environment

Address: 24 Oxford Street, 3rd Floor, Cambridge
Email: huce@environment.harvard.edu
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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