CCN 75695, Prof. Malcolm Potts, Spring 2016, Monday 2-4, Wednesday discussion sections
In their professional and personal lives students now attending Berkeley will confront a very different set of challenges than most of the current faculty have experienced. Economic growth cannot continue exponentially in a finite world. Human activity and human numbers threaten the possibility of irreversible damage to the fragile biosphere on which all life depends. The current generation of students is the first one to face this existential problem and it may be the last one that can solve it. The problems are global and the course will build on the unique cultural and ethnic diversity of UC Berkeley and its growing international links.
In this course faculty with expertise in the many variables involved (energy consumption, food security, population growth and family planning, climate change, governance, migration, resource consumption, etc.) will give one-hour presentations on their specific topic. Informal student discussion groups will then prepare brief statements responding to the challenge presented, and suggest ways of ameliorating the problem under discussion. Each group will make a brief presentation during the second hour of the two-hour class.
Through this course students will: understand that continued exponential growth in energy consumption and human population is unsustainable; develop a perspective on the current destruction of natural resources and biodiversity; understand how adverse trends, e.g. in group global warming and population growth, can interact in adverse ways, sometimes with considerable rapidity; define, through discussion and readings, those policies that need to be put in place and the investments that must be made in order to move the current pattern of unsustainable economic activity to a biologically sustainable one; understand the many political, social, and cultural barriers that stand in the way of developing needed, evidence-based policies and investments.
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