Climate and Civilization

HON 498 – Dr. Stephen Wagener

Modes of Inquiry: Textual Analysis, Scientific and Mathematical Analysis, Artistic Creation and Analysis, Historical, Social and Cultural Analysis

Course Description:

This multi-disciplinary course will introduce students to the Earth’s climate and its effects on the development of human civilization. As the topic of global warming and various methods of addressing this issue become more and more salient in both domestic and international politics and other socio-economic arenas, it is now, more than ever, necessary to gain a basic and broader understanding of the science and history of the dynamics between climate and the development of human civilization. Students will be exposed to and expected to integrate and reflect upon the following central themes in class discussions, activities, and papers: how we study climate, how climate has provided the context for evolutionary and cultural changes, and the likely effects that climate change will have on our future.

In addition to the above, students will be first provided with a basic understanding of the works of, evolutionary changes, and history of climate and civilization, first as separate entities, then as a whole. They will also examine and critique several case studies provided in class lectures and assigned readings that date all the way back to the Ice Age, to the Medieval Warm Period, and to the more recent Industrial Revolution. Also, students will be exposed to the works of experts, contemporary issues and debates, as well as proposed solutions in this field from both a scientific and socio-cultural perspective. Lastly, the students will be expected to construct a simple earth energy model and reconstruct past a past climate using climate proxies using Excel and existing climate archives. The content of this course will include presentations on the technical aspects of climate, and class discussions of assigned readings and videos.