CEGU

Committee on Environment, Geography and Urbanization

Division of Social Sciences, The University of Chicago

Autumn 2024

Other Quarters: AY 2023-2024

Climate Change, Environment, and Society

Christopher Kindell

Mo/We, 1:30–2:50pm
CEGU 20001, ENST 20011, GLST 21001,  HIST 25031

description

Against the background of planetary environmental emergencies in the early twenty-first century, this course provides an overview of key approaches to climate change and socio-environmental transformation in the social sciences and humanities. The course situates contemporary socio-environmental crises in relation to various time-scales of world-ecological transformation-including the origins of agriculture around 9,000 B.C.; the last four hundred years of global capitalist development; the consolidation of a fossil energy regime in the nineteenth century; and the ‘Great Acceleration’ of the mid-twentieth century. Students will explore the dynamics of society and environment through the study of, among other interconnected issues, energy regimes, resource extraction, agriculture, colonialism, population displacement/migration, urbanization, and the global commons, as well as the role of state institutions and governance arrangements in mediating the unequal distribution of environmental risk and vulnerability across and within populations. In considering such issues, we explore the connections between socio-environmental transformations and class-based, racialized, and gendered forms of inequality. Concepts of value, ethics, morality, equity, and environmental justice will be explored in considering the prospects for a “just transition” to more sustainable forms of collective social existence and more hopeful planetary futures.

Students who have taken ENST 21201: Human Impact on the Global Environment may not enroll in this course.

The Politics of Environmental Knowledge

Jessica Landau

Tu/Th, 11:00–12:20pm
CEGU 20002, ENST 20012, GLST 21002, HIST 25032

description

How has “nature” been understood and investigated in the modern world? Building upon diverse approaches to environmental history and philosophy, the history of science, and cultural studies, this course surveys the major frameworks through which the environment has been understood, investigated, and transformed since the origins of global modernity. Such issues are explored with reference to the mobilization of science, technology, and politics in several major areas of socio- environmental transformation in the modern world. Case studies might explore, among other issues, empire, race, and public health; cities and infectious disease since the Black Death; the ‘great enclosures’ of land associated with settler colonialism; the ‘Green Revolution’ in industrial agriculture; strategies of resource stewardship, land conservation, terraforming, hydrological engineering and watershed protection; the politics of global warming; and current debates on urban sustainability, carbon capture and geo-engineering. The course also considers the rise and evolution of environmentalist movements and conservation strategies, and the contested visions of nature they have embraced. The course concludes by investigating the competing paradigms of knowledge, science, and environment that underpin divergent contemporary programs of environmental governance and visions of ‘sustainability’.

Writing the City

Evan Carver

Mo/We, 3:00-4:20pm
CEGU 20002, ENST 20012

description

How do great writers convey sense-of-place in their writing? What are the best ways to communicate scientific and social complexity in an engaging, accessible way? How can we combine academic rigor with journalistic verve and literary creativity to drive the public conversation about urgent environmental and urban issues? These are just some of the questions explored in WRITING THE CITY, an intensive course dedicated to honing our skills of verbal communication about issues related to the built and natural environments. Students will research, outline, draft, revise, and ultimately produce a well-crafted piece of journalistic writing for publication in the program's new annual magazine, Expositions. Throughout the quarter we will engage intensely with a range of authors of place-based writing exploring various literary and journalistic techniques, narrative devices, rhetorical ​approaches, and stylistic strategies.

 

Class, Race and Urban Space: Producing The City

Mary Beth Pudup
Mo/We, 4:30–5:50pm
CEGU 20154, ENST 20154
description

Class and race are through lines in the determinative processes that transform urban space and inform conceptual models of urban growth and change. This lecture course examines historical geographies of class and race relations in crucial domains of urban life like employment, housing, public space and urgently during the contemporary era, climate change. The course emphasizes how Chicago-based models emerged as dominant frameworks purporting to make sense of urban morphology writ large, epitomized in publication of The City in 1925.

 

Environmental Law Practicum I

Mary Beth Pudup
Reading and Research Course
CEGU 29700
description

The Abrams Environmental Law Clinic attempts to solve some of the most pressing environmental and energy challenges throughout the Chicago area, the Great Lakes region, and the country. On behalf of a range of different clients, the clinic takes on entities which pollute illegally, fights for stricter permits, advocates for changes to regulations and laws, holds environmental and energy agencies accountable, and develops innovative approaches for improving the environment, public health, and the energy system.

Through clinic participation, students learn substantive environmental law and procedures for addressing concerns through the courts, administrative agencies, and legislative bodies. Students develop core advocacy competencies, such as spotting issues, conducting factual investigations, performing practical legal research, advocating through written and oral communications, planning cases, managing time, and addressing ethical issues and dilemmas. In addition, students develop an appreciation for the range of strategic and tactical approaches that effective advocates use. Enrollment is by application only. 

 

U.S. Environmental Policy

Raymond Lodato
Tu/Th, 12:30–1:50pm
CEGU 24701, ENST 24701, PBPL 24701
description

How environmental issues and challenges in the United States are addressed is subject to abrupt changes and reversals caused by extreme partisanship and the heightened significance of the issues for the health of the planet and all its inhabitants. The relatively brief history of this policy area, and the separate and distinct tracts in which public lands and pollution control issues are adjudicated, makes for a diverse and complex process by which humanity's impact on the natural world is managed and contained. This course focuses on how both types of environmental issues are addressed in each branch of the Federal government, the states and localities, as well as theories of how environmental issues arrived onto the public agenda and why attention to them is cyclical. Students are encouraged to understand the life cycle of public policy from its initial arrival on the public agenda to the passage of legislation to address adverse conditions, as well as how changes in the policy occur after the inevitable decline of intensive attention.

Environmental Justice in Principle and Practice I

Raymond Lodato
Tu/Th, 9:30–10:50am
CEGU 26260, ENST 26260, PBPL 26260
description

This course will investigate the foundational texts on environmental justice as well as case studies, both in and out of Chicago. Students will consider issues across a wide spectrum of concerns, including toxics, lead in water, waste management, and access to greenspaces, particularly in urban areas. These topics will be taught in accompaniment with a broader understanding of how social change occurs, what barriers exist to producing just outcomes, and what practices have worked to overcome obstacles in the past. The class will welcome speakers from a variety of backgrounds to address their work on these topics.

Exhibiting the Environmental Humanities: Curatorial Practicum

Jessica Landau

Tu/Th, Tu: 2:00-3:20pm; Th: 2:00-4:50pm
CEGU 20164

description
Collaboratively, students in this course will design and mount an exhibition based on research in the Environmental Humanities. Students will explore not just the exhibition’s content and historical contextualization but think through critical questions about choices made in the collecting and display of selected objects as well as examine the history of exhibitions in the United States. Drawing on methods from museum studies, art history, history, environmental studies, and others, students will develop interdisciplinary approaches to research and practice communicating humanistic inquiry to general audiences.

In the Fall 2024 Quarter, Students in Exhibiting the Environmental Humanities will have the opportunity to collaborate with the Sterling Morton Library at the Morton Arboretum to tell the story of May Theilgarrd Watts, an early environmental educator at the Arboretum, naturalist, author, and UChicago alumna.

Expositions Practicum

Evan Carver & Staff

Mo, 5:30-7:20pm
CEGU 22500

description

Expositions Magazine is a quarterly publication on environmental change and the built environment—written, edited, designed, and produced by students. The goal of the publication is to communicate broadly and in an engaging, persuasive manner about important issues in the contemporary world. Since issues relating to the environment, geography, and urbanization almost invariably have spatial, visual, and expressive dimensions, the magazine showcases cartography, photography, illustration, and other modes alongside exceptional narrative and place-based writing. The primary goal of this practicum is to help students hone a broad range of analytic and representational tools associated with communicating complex issues to a general audience.

Weekly two-hour lab meetings provide collaborative work time for the three primary stages of publication—editing, design, and production—while bi-weekly one-hour seminar meetings introduce relevant technical skills, theoretical frameworks, and historical context. Through this diverse program, students will confront the wide range of questions and problems involved in publishing and design in the environmental social sciences and humanities. This course requires 3 quarters of enrollment for 100 credits.

Introduction to Urban Sciences

Luis Bettencourt

Tu/Th: 12:30-1:50PM
CEGU 24600, ENST 24600, GISC 24600, GISC 34600, PBPL 24605, SOCI 20285

description

This course is a grand tour of conceptual frameworks, general phenomena, emerging data and policy applications that define a growing scientific integrated understanding of cities and urbanization.

It starts with a general outlook of current worldwide explosive urbanization and associated changes in social, economic and environmental indicators. It then introduces a number of historical models, from sociology, economics and geography that have been proposed to understand how cities operate. We will discuss how these and other facets of cities can be integrated as dynamical complex systems and derive their general characteristics as social networks embedded in structured physical spaces. Resulting general properties of cities will be illustrated in different geographic and historical contexts, including an understanding of urban resource flows, emergent institutions and the division of labor and knowledge as drivers of innovation and economic growth.

The second part of the course will deal with issues of inequality, heterogeneity and (sustainable) growth in cities. We will explore how these features of cities present different realities and opportunities to different individuals and how these appear as spatially concentrated (dis)advantage that shape people’s life courses. We will show how issues of inequality also have consequences at more macroscopic levels and derive the general features of population and economic growth for systems of cities and nations.

BA Colloquium I 

Christopher Kindell & Hong Jin

Fr, 12:30pm-2:50pm
CEGU 29801, ENST 29801

description

This colloquium is designed to aid students in their thesis research. Students are exposed to different conceptual frameworks and research strategies. The class meets weekly.

Winter 2025

The Politics of Environmental Knowledge

Jessica Landau

CEGU 20002, ENST 20012

description

How has “nature” been understood and investigated in the modern world? Building upon diverse approaches to environmental history and philosophy, the history of science, and cultural studies, this course surveys the major frameworks through which the environment has been understood, investigated, and transformed since the origins of global modernity. Such issues are explored with reference to the mobilization of science, technology, and politics in several major areas of socio- environmental transformation in the modern world. Case studies might explore, among other issues, empire, race, and public health; cities and infectious disease since the Black Death; the ‘great enclosures’ of land associated with settler colonialism; the ‘Green Revolution’ in industrial agriculture; strategies of resource stewardship, land conservation, terraforming, hydrological engineering and watershed protection; the politics of global warming; and current debates on urban sustainability, carbon capture and geo-engineering. The course also considers the rise and evolution of environmentalist movements and conservation strategies, and the contested visions of nature they have embraced. The course concludes by investigating the competing paradigms of knowledge, science, and environment that underpin divergent contemporary programs of environmental governance and visions of ‘sustainability’.

Genealogies of Environmental Organizing and Activism

Mary Beth Pudup

CEGU 21501, ENST 21501

description

This course explores how organizations-civic, private, governmental-working in the field of environmental advocacy construct, deploy and are shaped by distinct discourses governing relationships between nature and society. The environment is a field of social action in which organizations attempt to effect change in large domains like resource conservation, access, stewardship, and a basic right to environmental quality in everyday life. The work of effecting change in these complex domains can assume a variety of forms including public policy (through the agencies of the state), private enterprise (through the agency of the market), 'third sector' advocacy (through the agency of nonprofit organizations) and social activism (through the agency of social movements and community organizations). State, market, civil society and social movement organizations are where ideas are transmitted from theory to practice and back again in a recursive, dialectical process. These contrasting forms of organization have different histories, wellsprings and degrees of social power. Moreover, they bring different epistemologies to their claims about being legitimate custodians of nature-that is to say they can be understood genealogically. As such, organizations working to effect environment change are at once animated by and constitutive of distinct discourses governing the relationships between nature and society. The course explores how those distinct discourses are associated with a suite of different organizational realms of social action; the goal is trying to connect the dots between discursive formations and organizational forms.

 

Urban Design with Nature

Sabina Shaikh & Emily Talen

CEGU 27155, ENST 27155, BPRO 27155, CHST 27155, GISC 27155, PBPL 27156

description

This course will use the Chicago region as the setting to evaluate the social, environmental, and economic effects of alternative forms of human settlement. Students will examine the history, theory and practice of designing cities in sustainable ways - i.e., human settlements that are socially just, economically viable, and environmentally sound. Students will explore the literature on sustainable urban design from a variety of perspectives, and then focus on how sustainability theories play out in the Chicago region. How can Chicago's neighborhoods be designed to promote environmental, social, and economic sustainability goals? This course is part of the College Course Cluster program: Urban Design.

 

Introduction to Critical Spatial Media: Visualizing Urban, Environmental, and Planetary Change

Alexander Arroyo, Grga Basic & Sol Kim

CEGU 23517, ENST 23517, ARCH 23517, DIGS 23517, MAAD 13517

description

This course introduces critical theories and techniques for visualizing interconnected transformations of urban, environmental, and planetary systems amidst the pressures of climate change, urbanization, and global economies of capitalism. Weekly lectures will introduce major themes and theoretical debates, paired with hands-on lab tutorials exploring a selection of methods in conventional and experimental geographic visualization. Thematically, the course will be organized around critical interpretations of the Anthropocene, a concept designating the epoch in which anthropogenic activities are recognized as the dominant force of planetary climatic and ecological change. We will present these interpretations through modules structured around different conceptual paradigms and alternative epochal designations (e.g. the Urbanocene, the Capitalocene, the Plantationocene). Through weekly lab exercises and a final, synthetic project, the course will move from critically analyzing prevalent theoretical frameworks, geospatial data, and associated visualization techniques to creatively visualizing critical alternatives. Students will learn how to construct visual narratives through a variety of spatial media (e.g. maps, diagrams, visual timelines), scales (e.g. bodies, neighborhoods, landscapes, the planetary), and techniques/platforms (e.g. GIS, web mapping, basic programming language tools, and vector/raster visualization programs).

 

Environmental Law

Raymond Lodato

CEGU 23100, ENST 23100, PBPL 23100

description
This course will examine the bases and assumptions that have driven the development of environmental law, as well as the intersection of this body of law and foundational legal principles (including standing, liability, and the Commerce Clause). Each form of lawmaking (statutes, regulations, and court decisions) will be examined, with emphasis on reading and understanding primary sources such as court cases and the laws themselves. The course also analyzes the judicial selection process in order to understand the importance of how the individuals who decide cases that determine the shape of environmental law and regulations are chosen.

Sustainable Urban Development

Evan Carver

CEGU 20150, ENST 20150, GLST 20150, ARCH 20150, PBPL 20150

description

The course covers concepts and methods of sustainable urbanism, livable cities, resiliency, and smart growth principles from a social, environmental and economic perspective. In this course we examine how the development in and of cities - in the US and around the world - can be sustainable, especially given predictions of a future characterized by increasing environmental and social volatility. We begin by critiquing definitions of sustainability. The fundamental orientation of the course will be understanding cities as complex socio-natural systems, and so we will look at approaches to sustainability grouped around several of the most important component systems: climate, energy, transportation, and water. With the understanding that sustainability has no meaning if it excludes human life, perspectives from both the social sciences and humanities are woven throughout: stewardship and environmental ethics are as important as technological solutions and policy measures.

Environmental Justice in Principle and Practice II

Raymond Lodato

CEGU 26261, CHST 26261, ENST 26261, PBPL 26261

description

In this quarter, students will learn and practice methods to conduct a research project with a local environmental organization. Building on knowledge gained in the first half of this course, students will examine what makes a condition an environmental justice issue, how to conduct a literature review, how to develop and administer a questionnaire for key informant interviews, and how to access, understand, and utilize Census data. Students should expect to work in the community as well as the classroom, and in close collaboration with classmates. The class will conduct "deep-dive" research into the community selected, and will learn not only about the area, but techniques for how to do community-based research in a manner that acknowledges and appreciates the lived wisdom of the neighborhood's residents. The result will be a research report delivered to the community organization with students in the class listed as co-authors.

BA Colloquium II

Christopher Kindell and Hong Jin

CEGU 29802, ENST 29802

description

This colloquium is designed to aid students in their thesis research. Students are exposed to different conceptual frameworks and research strategies. The class meets weekly.

Global Environmental Change

Mary Beth Pudup & Sol Kim

CEGU 20003, ENST 20013

description
Critical examination of contemporary environmental crises requires deep immersion in key fields of environmental science that illuminate how societal processes have transformed the earth system. This course considers the genealogy of environmental problems in the modern world with reference to, among other core issues, the role of global land-use change, fossil energy, and waste production in climate change, biodiversity loss, water and soil contamination, and infectious disease transmission. The course introduces students to the major elements of earth system science and the study of global land-use change, with particular attention to key theoretical paradigms, methodological approaches, and forms of environmental and spatial data. Students will also gain familiarity with key fields of earth systems research such as the carbon cycle, hydrological processes; the physics and chemistry of the oceans and the atmosphere; the histories and geographies of carbon emissions; and planetary boundaries.

Spring 2025

Climate Change, Environment, and Society

Christopher Kindell

CEGU 20150, ENST 20150, GLST 20150, ARCH 20150, PBPL 20150

description
How has natural and anthropogenic climate change shaped human relationships with the environment? Against the backdrop of planetary environmental emergencies of the early-21st century, this discussion-based course will consider various time scales of ecological, technological, social, and political transformation, including: the rise of agriculture, state formation, and civilizational collapse; the “Medieval Warm Period” and the “Little Ice Age”; the Industrial Revolution, imperialism, and the consolidation of a global fossil fuel regime; the “Great Acceleration” of the mid-20th century; the development of modern climate science; and the social, political, and technological responses to human-induced global warming. Within these time scales, we will explore the dynamics of climate change, the environment, and society through the historical study of land management, population displacement and migration, resource extraction, energy production and consumption, the global commons, as well as the role of national and international governance arrangements in mediating the unequal distribution of environmental risk across the world. Ethics, morality, equity, and justice, among other concepts, will be investigated as we analyze connections among socio-environmental transformations and class-based, racialized, and gendered forms of inequality.

Spatial Thinking in Historical Cartography

Michael Conzen

CEGU 27110, ENST 27110, GISC 27110

description
The course introduces students to the ways cartographers have conceived of represen­ting spatial patterns in map form, and how that has changed over time, given changes in world view, cultural background, cartographic technology, business organization, and educational fashion.  The objective is to sharpen students’ ability to think critically about how maps have been produced in history, evaluate their design, effective-ness, and limitations, and the uses to which they have been put.  The aim is to challenge students in the social sciences and humanities to strengthen their ability to think spatially, visually, and critically.

Environmental Politics

Raymond Lodato

CEGU 24102, ENST 24102, PBPL 24102

description

Politics determines not only what particular faction holds power, but the parameters upon which contests for power are conducted. Competing political factions may diverge in the details of the policies they favor, but may agree on a central organizing principle upon which their policy differences are contested. This course acknowledges that such principles exist and structure politics, economics, and social arrangements, but also challenges the notion that these are immutable, and argues that other principles could be substituted which would drastically change these arrangements. The course introduces students to alternative theories of economics, politics, and environmental policy that challenge mainstream notions of what is acceptable under the current structural and institutional constraints, including how the retreat to notions of realism and practicality place limits on changes necessary to preserve and protect the natural environment.

Sustainable Urban Development

Evan Carver

CEGU 20150, ENST 20150, PBPL 20150, GLST 20150, ARCH 20150

description

The course covers concepts and methods of sustainable urbanism, livable cities, resiliency, and smart growth principles from a social, environmental and economic perspective. In this course we examine how the development in and of cities – in the US and around the world – can be sustainable, especially given predictions of a future characterized by increasing environmental and social volatility. We begin by critiquing definitions of sustainability. The fundamental orientation of the course will be understanding cities as complex socio-natural systems, and so we will look at approaches to sustainability grouped around several of the most important component systems: climate, energy, transportation, and water. With the understanding that sustainability has no meaning if it excludes human life, perspectives from both the social sciences and humanities are woven throughout: stewardship and environmental ethics are as important as technological solutions and policy measures.

International Environmental Policy

Raymond Lodato

CEGU 24776, ENST 24776, PBPL 24776

description

Environmental issues have become a prominent part of the work of international organizations and their member nations. However, the resolution to issues and concerns shared in common by the nations of the world often faces obstacles based on access to wealth and resources, political and military power, and the demands of international economic institutions. While multinational agreements have been achieved and successfully implemented, resolutions to issues such as climate change have been harder to achieve. The course will look at the origins of international cooperation on environmental issues, several case studies of issues upon which the international community has attempted to bring about cooperative solutions (climate change, the ozone hole, climate refugees, etc.), and the work that regional associations of nations have done to jointly address shared environmental challenges. In addition, speakers from various consulates have addressed the class to discuss environmental policymaking in their countries.

Roots of the Modern American City

Michael Conzen

CEGU 26100, ENST 26100, ARCH 26100, CHST 26100, HIST 28900, HIST 38900

description

This course traces the economic, social, and physical development of the city in North America from pre-European times to the mid-twentieth century. We emphasize evolving regional urban systems, the changing spatial organization of people and land use in urban areas, and the developing distinctiveness of American urban landscapes. All-day Illinois field trip required. This course is part of the College Course Cluster, Urban Design.

Cities on Screen

Evan Carver

CEGU 20160, ARCH 20160, ENST 20160

description

How do the movies shape our collective imagination about cities? Why do we so often turn to them for visions of disaster and dystopia, on the one hand, or a futuristic utopia on the other? How has film responded to cities in the past, and how can it help investigate our present urban condition? How can film be understood as a tool for exploring what a city is? In this seminar, we will watch and discuss feature films in which the built environment or urban issues play important roles. Students will improve their film literacy — learning not just what a film does but how it does it — and understand applications for film in the analysis of social, spatial, temporal, and immersive phenomena, as well as how it can help inspire and communicate design more effectively.