CHC Macaulay College Seminar 3: Science & Technology in New York City

Syllabus – Fall 2011

Environmental Impact – Local and Global Perspectives.

Prof. Micha Tomkiewicz –
Class: Tuesday 8 – 10:45AM 3424N
Instructional Tech Fellow: Laurel Mei Turbin —

Required Reading:

Micha Tomkiewicz, “Climate Change: The Fork at the End of Now”, Momentum Press, 2011.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 
Development and Climate Change: 2010 World Development Report
EPA Environmental Justice
Principles of Environmental Justice
CNN Story – Green Issue is Black and White

Intelligent Energy Choices

Output Documents:
• Class webpage on examples of the demographics of NYC environmental impacts. (required).
• Group presentations at the Macaulay College final Common Event. (Required).
Brooklyn College Undergraduate Journal (Optional)

Example of a previous webpage:

Course Description:

The course will emphasize the interconnection of scales between the global and local environmental impacts with focus on New York City. The science learning objectives include skill development in quantitative reasoning in areas such as graphing, unit conversion, exponential and logarithmic functions, elementary statistics, etc..Research learning objectives include posing researchable questions, literature search, hypothesis building, data collection, data analysis and publication skills.

Scientific concepts will be introduced that will enable students to analyze current environmental information from first principles. Perceived impact of environmental stresses requires tools for prediction of impacts.   The recommended book will be used as a “reading material” in the beginning of the course.  It will be used as background that illustrates global environmental impact through investigation of the scientific, social, economic and political issues that focus on climate change. The class-work will focus on the science of climate change, the methodologies to predict future impact and the correlations between economic development and environmental impact. The correlation will be formulated in terms of the IPAT equation that relates environmental impact (I) to population growth (P), growth in affluence as measured by GDP/Capita (A) and technological terms (T) that correlate between the GDP and the environmental impact. Future projections all indicate that unless major changes are introduced in the development path of emerging economies, global economic development will result in unsustainable environmental consequences.

The course offers the opportunity for students to gain exposure to disciplines from the physical sciences and the social sciences and apply their knowledge to processes that govern the natural environment and the impact of human activities on environmental quality.  We will address a broad range of topics, from geology to thermodynamics, from environmental risk analysis to environmental justice.  We will develop, over the course of the semester, the connections between population growth, energy use, economic development and the environment, on local, regional and global scales.

The research projects will focus on correlation between acronyms such as NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) and BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything) and environmental justice issues. The efforts will be anchored on PlanNYC30 documentation, guest speakers with decision making responsibilities (past or present and other primary information sources and on-ground research. Topics will include demographics of garbage collection and storage, access to real estate, local implementation of economic development objectives, etc.. The specific projects will be selected by the students.

The course grade will be based on class projects (40%), Final exam (30%) and class participation (30%) that will include some take-home projects and follow-up of on current events.

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