Ron Amundson (Home Department: Environmental Science, Policy and Management)
Tuesday and Thursday 9:30-11:00, Hearst Annex A1 (4 units), Class number: 26180
This course is also listed as Environmental Science, Policy, and Management C10

What is the “environment”? Not what students may initially think, nor may they fully realize how central the question is to what is important to them, to their present and future happiness, and to the life they may aspire to have when they are 50.

In this Discovery Course, we examine the facts, myths, and misconceptions about scientific knowledge and how it is received and filtered by all of us. We acknowledge we are all psychologically hardwired in ways that impede our acceptance of challenging information We consider the additional deliberate attempts at scientific misinformation for political or ideological purposes, and the role of government censorship of information. It is within this complex landscape of information and its manipulation that the major environmental issues of our time–food production, energy/climate change, urbanization/consumer goods production and consumption–are evolving. We try to examine these issues carefully, dispelling or exposing, where we can, the many fallacies promoted by both adherents and opponents of any given issue. The rejection of fact, we learn, is a very bi-partisan activity.

Our environment, as we discover, plays an enormous role in our happiness and well-being, and in the well-being of nations. We examine the changing face and participants in environmentalism. We examine the important, and sometime crippling, concepts of environmental amnesia, environmental fatigue, and environmental anxiety.

In conclusion, Environmental Issues is organized loosely around five key questions: 1. What will the world look like when you are 50?, 2. Do we have anywhere else to go?, 3. What would Bono do?, 4. What was the person who cut the last tree down on Easter Island thinking?, and 5. What is important to you? If you are intrigued by these questions, join the class and learn what the answers might be, and how they might affect the way you see the world.


This course may be used to satisfy the Biological Science or Social and Behavioral Sciences breadth requirement in Letters and Science.