Committee on Environment, Geography and Urbanization

Division of Social Sciences, The University of Chicago

Other Quarters: Winter 2023

Courses marked (C) can be taken as an ENST Capstone.

Social Theory for a Green New Deal

Rebecca Journey

Mo/We, 3:00–4:20pm
ENST 25130, GLST 25130, ANTH 23812

This course covers the technologies by which humans appropriate energy for industrial and societal use, from steam turbines to internal combustion engines to photovoltaics. We also discuss the physics and economics of the resulting human energy system: fuel sources and relationship to energy flows in the Earth system; and modeling and simulation of energy production and use. Our goal is to provide a technical foundation for students interested in careers in the energy industry or in energy policy. Field trips required to major energy converters (e.g., coal-fired and nuclear power plants, oil refinery, biogas digester) and users (e.g., steel, fertilizer production). This course is part of the College Course Cluster program: Climate Change, Culture and Society.

Energy: Science, Technology, and Human Usage

Elizabeth Moyer

Mo/We, 3:00–4:20pm
ENST 24705, ENSC 21100, GEOS 34705

U.S. House Resolution 109-popularly known as the Green New Deal-pledges a systemic corrective to the social and ecological harms of late industrial capitalism. With a particular focus on questions of economic and environmental justice, this seminar anthropologically assesses the prospect of a Green New Deal and its potential relationship to society, policy, and the built environment. Thinking relationally across scales and systems, we will consider the stakes of this large-scale yet still largely undefined legislative proposal and its implications for the social contract in a warming world. Attending to the ways in which race, class and gender inform late industrial life, the seminar will explore (via the environmental humanities and feminist & indigenous STS) concepts such as stewardship, climate justice, environmental racism, intergenerational ethics, more-than-human ontologies, and the Anthropocene (plus alternative frames).

Sustainable Urban Development

Evan Carver

Tu/Th, 11:00am–12:20pm
ENST 20150, ARCH 20150, GLST 20150, PBPL 20150


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.

Pacific Worlds: Race, Gender, Health, and the Environment (C)

Christopher Kindell

Mo/We, 4:30–5:50pm
ENST 20151, GNSE 22151, HIPS 20151, HIST 25030, GLST 25151, HLTH 20151, CRES 20151


This discussion-based course will introduce students to both classical and recent scholarship in Pacific World historiography. By adopting micro-historical, comparative, and transnational methods, students will examine the formation of three overlapping “worlds”: The Antipodes, Polynesia, and the northeastern Pacific. Analyzing the myriad intersections of race, gender, health, and the environment, we will explore a range of large-scale historical processes that shaped and reshaped the Pacific between the mid-eighteenth and the mid-twentieth centuries. These processes include European exploration, settler colonialism, and indigenous sovereignty; sex, depopulation, and race science; labor, migration, and urbanization; industrialization and environmental exploitation; and imperial expansion and citizenship. The course is intended for students with an interest in the Pacific Islands, Australasia, and the North American West, as well as those interested in race, gender, health, or the environment within indigenous, immigrant, or settler colonial contexts. Required readings—which will consist of book chapters and academic articles—will be used to contextualize and critically analyze a variety of primary sources during each class session.

This course can be taken as an ENST Capstone.

Cities on Screen

Evan Carver

Tu, 3:30–4:50pm / Th, 3:30–6:20pm
ENST 20160, ARCH 20160


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.

Human Impact on the Global Environment

Christopher Kindell

Mo/We, 1:30–2:50pm
ENST 21201


The goal of this survey course is to analyze the impact of the human enterprise on the world that sustains it. Topics include human population dynamics and historical trends in global impact, with most of the course focusing on how humans have altered the Earth system through a variety of processes (including climate change, air, water, nutrient cycling, pollution/novel entities, biodiversity, and land use). We read and discuss diverse sources, write short analytical papers, and a final argument based research paper.

Environmental Politics

Raymond Lodato

Tu/Th, 9:30–10:50am
ENST 24102, PBPL 24102


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.

International Environmental Policy

Raymond Lodato

Tu/Th, 2:00–3:20pm
ENST 24776, PBPL 24776


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.

Urban Design with Nature (C)

Sabina Shaikh & Emily Talen

We, 12:30–3:20pm
ENST 27155, BPRO 27155, CHST 27155, GISC 27155, PBPL 27156


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 can be taken as an ENST Capstone.

Cultural Cartography of Bronzeville

Andrew Schachman

Fr, 12:30–4:50pm
ENST 24206, ARTH 24206, ARCH 24206


The city continually erases itself, replacing the spaces, architectures, objects and activities that resonate in the memory of its inhabitants. While this process is the consequence of familiar forces — capitalist development, socio-cultural changes, environmental responses — the phenomenon of perpetual erasure sometimes produces a form of collective amnesia, interfering with our ability to reconcile with our pasts, especially histories of systemic displacement, exclusion, and exploitation. This course, a hybrid of a seminar and studio, will examine the deep cultural and urbanistic implications of Chicago’s Bronzeville. Via poetry, fiction, history, testimony, interviews, photography,and films, students will recover Bronzeville’s layered history and contemporary implications. In the studio, students will develop drawings to connect these narratives so space and time. Via site visits and conversations, this course will connect with artists, architects and researchers currently completing projects within and adjacent to this area of the city.

Architecture of the Public Library

Luke Joyner

We, 3:00–4:20pm / Fr, 3:00–5:50pm
ENST 24198, ARCH 24198


In this architecture studio course, you will learn and practice a range of architectural skills, using as a starting point the library as an institution, and in particular the range of libraries in and around Chicago. You will look at, sketch, and work within libraries across the campus and city, and think about the role the library plays in our time. Studio projects will focus on the library as a locus for learning, a public space, an organizational system, a set of social services, and an architectural opportunity. After a series of short design exercises, you will work in groups to design a proposal for a new library for Chicago, on a real site that you choose. The bulk of your time will be spent on these studio projects, but there will also be reading and conversation. Materials for drawing and making will be provided.

Note: this class will not have field trips outside of class time, but will regularly meet at different locations both on-campus and around the city. Please make sure you’ve built enough time into your schedule to get to and from meeting locations. No prior experience necessary. Consent required for all studio courses not as a barrier to entry, but to ensure fit. Please contact Luke Joyner (lukejoy@uchicago.edu↗) for more info.

Taking Back the Land: Anthropology, Geography, and Ethnoscience for Land Justice

Marshall Kramer

Fr, 1:30–4:20pm
ENST 22205, MAPS 32205, ANTH 22206, ANTH 32207, CHSS 32205, HIPS 22205


In a world of settler property regimes, corporate holdings, and national parks, how are communities reclaiming the lands they’ve lost? National parks overturned; indigenous community conservation areas established; food deserts restored with expanding networks of community gardens: the last decade has seen an eruption of opportunities for land justice amidst continuing challenges from ongoing processes of capitalism, colonialism, and climate change. This course offers a wholistic anthropological approach to land justice activism that begins with strategies for building collaborations, before looking at tools to help assert claims over territories and resources, and finally, exploring ways of restoring reclaimed lands with new foodways, forests, and community governance. Alongside critical readings and guest teachings from land justice activists in Southeast Asia and North America, the course will examine how a diversity of citizen science tools are being combined with indigenous, anthropological, geographic, and ecological methods to formulate a toolkit for land justice activism and community land/resource management. From counter mapping territory with remote sensing to effective strategies used to block mining projects; from indigenous conservation planning to guerrilla gardening: this course will explore different approaches to reclaiming lands and resources.

Voices of Alterity and the Languages of Immigration

Angelina Ilieva

Mo, 1:30–4:20pm
ENST 27125, REES 29025, CHST 29025

This course investigates the individual experience of immigration: how do immigrants recreate themselves in this alien world in which they seem to lose part of themselves? How do they find their voice and make a place for themselves in their adoptive homes? If in the new world the immigrant becomes a new person, what meanings are still carried in traditional values and culture? How do they remember their origins and record new experiences?
This class is part of a 3-class Chicago Studies course bundle entitled “Immigration: The Right to the Second City” that includes REES/CHST 21500, 24417, and 29025 and their cross-lists. Students may enroll for one, two, or all three of these classes to explore this topic more deeply during the Spring Quarter.

Where We Come From: Methods and Materials in the Study of Immigration

William Nickell

Tu, 2:00–4:50pm
ENST 27210, REES 24417, CHST 24417

This course provides an interactive survey of methodologies that engage the experiences of immigrants in Chicago. Exploring practices ranging from history to fiction, activism to memorialization, this course will introduce students to a variety of the ways that immigrants and scholars have approached the Second City.
This class is part of a 3-class Chicago Studies course bundle entitled “Immigration: The Right to the Second City” that includes REES/CHST 21500, 24417, and 29025 and their cross-lists. Students may enroll for one, two, or all three of these classes to explore this topic more deeply during the Spring Quarter.

Spaces of Hope: The City and Its Immigrants

Nada Petkovic

Th, 2:00–4:50pm
ENST 27330, REES 21500, CHST 21500

“The city is the site where people of all origins and classes mingle, however reluctantly and agonistically, to produce a common if perpetually changing and transitory life.” (David Harvey) This course will use the urban studies lens to explore the complex history of immigration to Chicago, with close attention to communities of East European origin. Drawing on anthropological theory and ethnographic materials, we will study the ways in which the city and its new citizens transform one another.
This class is part of a 3-class Chicago Studies course bundle entitled “Immigration: The Right to the Second City” that includes REES/CHST 21500, 24417, and 29025 and their cross-lists. Students may enroll for one, two, or all three of these classes to explore this topic more deeply during the Spring Quarter.