SII199 Understanding and Debating Environmental Issues Syllabus

University of Toronto, Winter 2016


About This Course

The study of environment offers unique challenges since it is inherently interdisciplinary involving the intersection of science, society, politics, culture, and values. The complexity of this area of study combined with a multitude of competing interests means that one can easily become overwhelmed with the bombardment of new and often conflicting information. The purpose of this seminar course is to introduce students to current environmental issues through readings and discussions to develop an understanding of the issue to serve as a foundation in debating what should be done about said issue. In addition, the course aims to introduce and provide opportunities for students to practice skills necessary for a successful undergraduate experience, e.g. the development of critical thinking, writing skills, and oral presentations. The course consists of detailed examination of three current environmental issues: climate change, energy, and water. For each, we will first examine the physical facts of the case and then the social and political aspects. From this foundation, students will then be required to seek out and evaluate other information sources and communicate their new found knowledge back to the class. Drawing on the breadth of knowledge and perspectives presented, students will then debate what should be done about the issue.