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BSc Biology with Science & Society / Course details
Year of entry: 2021
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Course unit details:
Climate Change and Society
|Unit level||Level 3|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 1|
|Offered by||Centre for History of Science, Technology & Medicine (L5)|
|Available as a free choice unit?||Yes|
Why does climate change policy, despite attracting a worldwide interest, remain a disappointment? Is it because the world is not working hard enough to implement existing climate policies, or because the issue is so difficult that no amount of good work will be sufficient to control the rising greenhouse emissions?
- You will explore why climate change became the environmental and socio-economic problem of the century; why it took so long after the discovery of the greenhouse effect for politicians to become aware of its cataclysmic potential; and who brought the issue to the policy arena.
- The unit sets recent - and future - developments in the context of the historic background in which 'climate change' affected the material life of both traditional and high-output societies. It explores the role of science, the function of politics, and the promise of industry to bring the problem under control and to the fore of public policy.
- The unit further explores how climate change features in the public sphere and whether the media works to be transparent in conveying scientific knowledge.
The unit suits students of all academic backgrounds, including humanities students, who are keen to use creative approaches to think about today's environmental issues.
This unit explores why climate change has attracted so much public, political and economic attention during the last 50 years. Is climate change changing everything? Is it changing anything? The unit covers the issue from various perspectives: scientific, cultural, political, economic and media. The unit is suited to arts, humanities and science students interested in the scientific, social and policy aspects of climate change.
On successful completion of the unit you will be able to:
- Describe the scientific, economic and cultural foundation and key concepts that underlie global climate change
- Discuss methods that are used to study climate change from different historical, cultural and social perspectives
- Identify how environmental issues emerge as social problems that require policy measures
- Evaluate climate policy and the politics of climate negotiation with reference to a wide range of stakeholders
In addition, for 20 credits:
- Research and write a literature-based review, integrating scientific, historical and social viewpoints
- Climate: The greatest empire
- Science: Revelle's grand experiment
- Consensus: Science triumphant
- Politics of climate change
- Ethics of climate change
- Economics of climate change
- Climate change and security
- Urban climate change
- Climate change in the media
- Future climate: The Apocalypse?
Teaching and learning methods
UCIL 33501 (20credit)
11 debates in groups
176 hours of independent study
Knowledge and understanding
Students will be able to:
Be conversant with theories, methods and skills to study climate change from different historical, cultural and social perspectives.
Understand the scientific foundation and key concepts that underlie global climate change
Gain knowledge about the varieties of interactions between climate, science and social organisations (publics, government, private sector, indigenous communities)
Analyse key elements of climate policy and the politics of climate negotiation
Assimilate new information and integrate it into class activities and research projects
Student will develop the skills to:
Investigate in greater detail a specific problem, carry out innovative research and come up with innovative analytical methods to find out the relevant answers.
Become familiar with the language and knowledge-base necessary to discuss the science, history and policy of climate change with their peers
To close-read and interpret the statements on climate change and policy implications
Think contextually: understand how environmental issues emerge as social problems that require policy measures
Evaluate the nature of information presented in policy documents and the media
Students will be able to develop the practical skills to:
Propose original research topics applicable to local climate governance policies from behavioral, educational or infrastructural perspectives
Develop conceptual apparatus to understand the policy, public and economic statements regarding the climate change regime
Communicate orally during their weekly debates and in less-structured seminar discussions.
Transferable skills and personal qualities
The unit requires that students critically read and analyse select academic and media materials, research original topics, prepare for oral presentations, argue opposing views in real-time. Skills include: team work in preparation and presentation of research, critical and policy-oriented thinking, skills to understand the ‘hidden’ framings of climate change statements; writing skills: academic and for specific audiences.
- Analytical skills
- General analytical skills needed for critical study of any environmental issue
- Contextualization skills required for lateral thinking and synthetic engagement with environmental problems
- Project management
- Students will take ownership of a essay/project/presentation that would allow them to assimilate the content and in-class assignments into an original, informed discussion on the subject. Coordination of project parts will be necessary to prepare for an effective debate.
- Oral communication
- Presentational techniques, oral expression and ad-hoc discussion points developed during debates
1. 1500 word essay (25%)
2. Exam (25%)
3. 3500 word project report (50%)
Students will receive to formative feedbacks during the course of the unit:
(1) individual feedback to their presentations and debate
(2) individual feedback on their essay assignment.
They will also have access to full feedback on their projects and exams.
All submitted coursework will be returned with annotations and comments on Blackboard explaining the rationale for the marks given.
All feedback on written coursework will be given within two weeks time, unless otherwise specified.
- Mike Hulme (2009), Why We Disagree about Climate Change. Cambridge.
- John Urry (2011). Climate Change and Society. Polity.
- Anthony Giddens (2006). The Politics of Climate Change. Cambridge
- Candis Callison (2014). How Climate Change Comes to Matter: the Communal Life of Facts. Duke University Press.
- Roger A. Pielke Jr (2011). The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won’t tell you About Global Warming. Basic Books.
- Maxwell Boykoff (2011). Who Speaks for the Climate: Making Sense on Media Reporting on Climate Change. Cambridge
- Christian Parenti (2011). Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence. Nation Books.
|Scheduled activity hours|
|Assessment written exam||2|
|Independent study hours|
|Vladimir Jankovic||Unit coordinator|