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MIT Environment & Sustainability: Histories and Cultures

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Advanced Seminar: Urban Nature and City Design
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Urban nature is discussed and explored in this set of course material offered online as part of the MIT OpenCourseWare initiative. The course was originally taught by Professor Anne Whiston Spirn in fall 2012 and, as the site notes, explores the mutual influences of ideas of nature, theories of city design and planning. On the site visitors can read over the syllabus to check out the list of readings as well as the assignments. Some of the readings are available as free downloads and there really are some great works here. The Assignments are sure to pique the curiosity of those with a penchant for urban affairs and the truly adventurous may complete them on their own.

Subject:
Social Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Provider:
MIT
Provider Set:
MIT OpenCourseWare
Author:
Anne Whiston Spirn
Date Added:
11/07/2012
American Consumer Culture
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This class examines how and why twentieth-century Americans came to define the ‰ŰĎgood life‰Ű through consumption, leisure, and material abundance. We will explore how such things as department stores, nationally advertised brand-name goods, mass-produced cars, and suburbs transformed the American economy, society, and politics. The course is organized both thematically and chronologically. Each period deals with a new development in the history of consumer culture. Throughout we explore both celebrations and critiques of mass consumption and abundance.

Subject:
World Cultures
U.S. History
Material Type:
Full Course
Provider:
MIT
Provider Set:
MIT OpenCourseWare
Author:
Meg Jacobs
Date Added:
02/16/2011
The Anthropology of Biology
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This course applies the tools of anthropology to examine biology in the age of genomics, biotechnological enterprise, biodiversity conservation, pharmaceutical bioprospecting, and synthetic biology. It examines such social concerns such as bioterrorism, genetic modification, and cloning. It offers an anthropological inquiry into how the substances and explanations of biology—ecological, organismic, cellular, molecular, genetic, informatic—are changing. It examines such artifacts as cell lines, biodiversity databases, and artificial life models, and using primary sources in biology, social studies of the life sciences, and literary and cinematic materials, and asks how we might answer Erwin Schrodinger’s 1944 question, “What Is Life?” today.

Subject:
Biology
Anthropology
Material Type:
Full Course
Provider:
MIT
Provider Set:
MIT OpenCourseWare
Author:
Stefan Helmreich
Date Added:
02/16/2011
CityScope: New Orleans
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Do you want to think about ways to help solve New Orleans' problems? CityScope is a project-based introduction to the contemporary city. “Problem solving in complex (urban) environments” is different than “solving complex problems.” As a member of a team, you will learn to assess scenarios for the purpose of formulating social, economic and design strategies to provide humane and sustainable solutions. A visit to New Orleans is planned for spring break 2007.

Subject:
Architecture and Design
Material Type:
Full Course
Provider:
MIT
Provider Set:
MIT OpenCourseWare
Author:
Cherie Miot Abbanat
John Fernandez
J. Phillip Thompson
Date Added:
02/16/2011
The Energy Crisis: Past and Present
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This course will explore how Americans have confronted energy challenges since the end of World War II. Beginning in the 1970s, Americans worried about the supply of energy. As American production of oil declined, would the US be able to secure enough fuel to sustain their high consumption lifestyles? At the same time, Americans also began to fear the environmental side affects of energy use. Even if the US had enough fossil fuel, would its consumption be detrimental to health and safety? This class examines how Americans thought about these questions in the last half-century. We will consider the political, diplomatic, economic, cultural, and technological aspects of the energy crisis. Topics include nuclear power, suburbanization and the new car culture, the environmental movement and the challenges of clean energy, the Middle East and supply of oil, the energy crisis of the 1970s, and global warming.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Homework/Assignment
Lecture Notes
Syllabus
Provider:
MIT
Provider Set:
MIT OpenCourseWare
Author:
Meg Jacobs
Date Added:
01/01/2010
Energy, Environment, and Society: Global Politics, Technologies, and Ecologies of the Water-Energy-Food Crisis
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With increasing public awareness of the multiple effects of global environmental change, the terms water, energy, and food crisis have become widely used in scientific and political debates on sustainable development and environmental policy. Although each of these crises has distinct drivers and consequences, providing sustainable supplies of water, energy, and food are deeply interrelated challenges and require a profound understanding of the political, socioeconomic, and cultural factors that have historically shaped these interrelations at a local and global scale.

Subject:
Chemistry
Material Type:
Full Course
Provider:
MIT
Provider Set:
MIT OpenCourseWare
Author:
William San Martin Aedo
Date Added:
02/16/2011
Energy and Environment in American History: 1705-2005
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A survey of how America has become the world's largest consumer of energy. Explores American history from the perspective of energy and its relationship to politics, diplomacy, the economy, science and technology, labor, culture, and the environment. Topics include muscle and water power in early America, coal and the Industrial Revolution, electrification, energy consumption in the home, oil and US foreign policy, automobiles and suburbanization, nuclear power, OPEC and the 70's energy crisis, global warming, and possible paths for the future.

Subject:
Arts and Humanities
World Cultures
Economics
Material Type:
Full Course
Provider:
MIT
Provider Set:
MIT OpenCourseWare
Author:
Peter Shulman
Date Added:
02/16/2011
Environmental Conflict
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This course explores the complex interrelationships among humans and natural environments, focusing on non-western parts of the world in addition to Europe and the United States. It uses environmental conflict to draw attention to competing understandings and uses of “nature” as well as the local, national and transnational power relationships in which environmental interactions are embedded. In addition to utilizing a range of theoretical perspectives, this subject draws upon a series of ethnographic case studies of environmental conflicts in various parts of the world.

Subject:
World Cultures
Anthropology
Material Type:
Full Course
Provider:
MIT
Provider Set:
MIT OpenCourseWare
Author:
Christine Walley
Date Added:
01/01/2005
Environmental Struggles
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This class explores the interrelationship between humans and natural environments. It does so by focusing on conflict over access to and use of the environment as well as ideas about "nature" in various parts of the world.

Subject:
World Cultures
Anthropology
Material Type:
Full Course
Provider:
MIT
Provider Set:
MIT OpenCourseWare
Author:
Christine Walley
Date Added:
01/01/2004
Expository Writing - Food for Thought: Writing and Reading about Food and Culture
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Civilization is mostly the story of how seeds, meats, and ways to cook them travel from place to place. - Adam Gopnik, "What's Cooking" "A significant part of the pleasure of eating is in one's accurate consciousness of the lives and the world from which food comes." - Wendell Berry, "The Pleasures of Eating" If you are what you eat, what are you? Food is at once the stuff of life and a potent symbol; it binds us to the earth, to our families, and to our cultures. The aroma of turkey roasting or the taste of green tea can be a portal to memories, while too many Big Macs can clog our arteries. The chef is an artist, yet those who pick oranges or process meat may be little more than slaves. In this class, we will explore many of the fascinating issues that surround food as both material fact and personal and cultural symbol. We will read essays by Chang-Rae Lee, Francine du Plessix Gray, M. F. K. Fisher, Anthony Bourdain, and others on such topics as family meals, the art and science of cooking, fair trade, eating disorders, and food's ability to awaken us to "our own powers of enjoyment" (M. F. K. Fisher). We will also read Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation and view one or more films or videos as a class. Assigned essays will grow out of memories and the texts we read, and will include personal narratives and essays that depend on research. Workshop review of writing in progress and revision of essays will be an important part of the course.

Subject:
World Cultures
Material Type:
Full Course
Textbook
Provider:
MIT
Provider Set:
MIT OpenCourseWare
Author:
Karen Boiko
Date Added:
02/16/2011
Introduction to Environmental History
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Focusing primarily on the period since 1500, explores the influence of climate, topography, plants, animals, and microorganisms on human history and the reciprocal influence of people on the environment. Topics include the European encounter with the Americas, the impact of modern technology, and the historical roots of the current environmental crisis.

Subject:
World History
Ecology
Material Type:
Full Course
Provider:
MIT
Provider Set:
MIT OpenCourseWare
Author:
Harriet Ritvo
Date Added:
01/30/2012
Materials in Human Experience
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Examines the ways in which people in ancient and contemporary societies have selected, evaluated, and used materials of nature, transforming them to objects of material culture. Some examples: glass in ancient Egypt and Rome; powerful metals in the Inka empire; rubber processing in ancient Mexico. Explores ideological and aesthetic criteria often influential in materials development. Laboratory/workshop sessions provide hands-on experience with materials discussed in class. Subject complements 3.091. Enrollment may be limited.

Subject:
Anthropology
Archaeology
Material Type:
Full Course
Provider:
MIT
Provider Set:
MIT OpenCourseWare
Author:
Heather Lechtman
Date Added:
02/16/2011
Nature, Environment, and Empire
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This class examines the relationship between the study of natural history, both domestic and exotic, by Europeans and Americans, and exploration and exploitation of the natural world, focusing on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Subject:
Arts and Humanities
Material Type:
Full Course
Provider:
MIT
Provider Set:
MIT OpenCourseWare
Author:
Harriet Ritvo
Date Added:
10/22/2011
The Once and Future City
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What is a city? What shapes it? How does its history influence future development? How do physical form and institutions vary from city to city and how are these differences significant? How are cities changing and what is their future? This course will explore these and other questions, with emphasis upon twentieth-century American cities. A major focus will be on the physical form of cities—from downtown and inner-city to suburb and edge city—and the processes that shape them.

These questions and more are explored through lectures, readings, workshops, field trips, and analysis of particular places, with the city itself as a primary text. In light of the 2016 centennial of MIT’s move from Boston to Cambridge, the 2015 iteration of the course focused on MIT’s original campus in Boston’s Back Bay, and the university’s current neighborhood in Cambridge. Short field assignments, culminating in a final project, will provide students opportunities to use, develop, and refine new skills in “reading” the city.

Subject:
Architecture and Design
Material Type:
Full Course
Textbook
Provider:
MIT
Provider Set:
MIT OpenCourseWare
Author:
Anne Whiston Spirn
Date Added:
02/16/2011
People and Other Animals
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This class provides a historical survey of the ways that people have interacted with their closest animal relatives, for example: hunting, domestication of livestock, exploitation of animal labor, scientific study of animals, display of exotic and performing animals, and pet keeping. Themes include changing ideas about animal agency and intelligence, our moral obligations to animals, and the limits imposed on the use of animals.

Subject:
Anthropology
Material Type:
Full Course
Provider:
MIT
Provider Set:
MIT OpenCourseWare
Author:
Harriet Ritvo
Date Added:
01/01/2013
S-Lab: Laboratory for Sustainable Business
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How can we translate real-world challenges into future business opportunities? How can individuals, organizations, and society learn and undergo change at the pace needed to stave off worsening problems? Today, organizations of all kinds--traditional manufacturing firms, those that extract resources, a huge variety of new start-ups, services, non-profits, and governmental organizations of all types, among many others--are tackling these very questions. For some, the massive challenges of moving towards sustainability offer real opportunities for new products and services, for reinventing old ones, or for solving problems in new ways. The course aims to provide participants with access and in-depth exposure to firms that are actively grappling with the sustainability-related issues through cases, readings and guest speakers.

Subject:
Business and Communication
Material Type:
Full Course
Provider:
MIT
Provider Set:
MIT OpenCourseWare
Author:
Sarah Slaughter
Date Added:
01/01/2008
Science Communication: A Practical Guide
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This class develops the abilities of students to communicate science effectively in a variety of real-world contexts. It covers strategies for dealing with complex areas like theoretical physics, genomics and neuroscience, and addresses challenges in communicating about topics such as climate change and evolution. Projects focus on speaking and writing, being an expert witness, preparing briefings for policy-makers, writing blogs, and giving live interviews for broadcast, as well as the creation of an interactive exhibit for display in the MIT Museum.

Subject:
Communication
Material Type:
Full Course
Provider:
MIT
Provider Set:
MIT OpenCourseWare
Author:
Bina Venkataraman
John Durant
Date Added:
09/04/2013
Technology and the Global Economy, 1000-2000
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This seminar examines the global history of the last millennium, including technological change, commodity exchange, systems of production, and economic growth. Students engage with economic history, medieval and early modern origins of modern systems of production, consumption and global exchange. Topics include the long pre-history of modern economic development; medieval world systems; the age of discovery; the global crisis of the 17th century; demographic systems; global population movements; the industrial revolution; the rise of the modern consumer; colonialism and empire building; patterns of inequality, within and across states; the curse of natural resources fate of Africa; and the threat of climate change to modern economic systems. Students taking the graduate version complete additional assignments.

Subject:
World History
Material Type:
Full Course
Provider:
M.I.T.
Author:
Anne McCants
Date Added:
05/09/2022
Theory of City Form
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This course covers theories about the form that settlements should take and attempts a distinction between descriptive and normative theory by examining examples of various theories of city form over time. Case studies will highlight the origins of the modern city and theories about its emerging form, including the transformation of the nineteenth-century city and its organization. Through examples and historical context, current issues of city form in relation to city-making, social structure, and physical design will also be discussed and analyzed.

Subject:
Architecture and Design
Material Type:
Full Course
Provider:
MIT
Provider Set:
MIT OpenCourseWare
Author:
Julian Beinart
Date Added:
02/16/2011
U-Lab: Leading Profound Innovation for a More Sustainable World
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U-Lab: Leading Profound Innovation for a More Sustainable World is an interactive and experiential class about leading profound innovation for pioneering a more sustainable economy and society. The class is organized around personal reflection practices, relational practices, and societal practices. It focuses on the intertwined relationship between the evolution of capitalism, multi-stakeholder innovation, and presencing.

Subject:
Business and Communication
Material Type:
Full Course
Provider:
MIT
Provider Set:
MIT OpenCourseWare
Author:
Claus Otto Scharmer
Date Added:
01/01/2010