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Environmental Studies & English 4120 -- Spring 2024

Cultural Studies and Climate Change

2023 was not simply the hottest year in recorded history but likely the hottest year of the last 125,000 years. 2024 is likely to be hotter still. Far earlier than predicted we are passing the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement target of 1.5 C. What's coming at us?

Now is a time of dire emergency for the Earth, a time when drastic and dramatic measures must be taken so that our planet remains liveable.

This course brings together science, social science, and the power of the imagination to understand the global impact, history, politics, and ethics of the climate crisis. The approach emphasizes the relatedness of all human and natural communities and a commmitment to doing everything we can to preserve a habitable earth.

Course Success

As a senior-level course crosslisted in both English and Environmental Studies, this class involves extensive reading. Students are expected to purchase paper copies of the books, always carefully do the reading, bring books to class, and come prepared to contribute.

Since the class is discussion-based, attendance and preparation are essential to your own learning and to the learning of your classmates. Your class participation grade is based on how well you have done the reading and prepared for class; I will ensure that your voice is heard and everyone participates!

Missing any classes will affect your learning. Missing 3 classes or more will lower your grade and missing 5 classes may lead to failing. Study my philosophy regarding discussion, preparation, participation, attendance, grading, and learning!

Students in this course are expected to keep up with current events regarding the course theme. The best newspaper for climate news is the The Guardian, available for free on line. Also take advantage of the WMU library making the NY Times available to students for free.

Students in this course are expected to participate in the diverse activities of the WMU Climate Emergency: Spring Into Action 2024; as described below regularly attending events will be part of the course grade.

The course is intended to develop a your thinking about the climate crisis, share ideas, and start making a difference. Thus writing for this course will be in a public voice and published online or shared beyond the class. This semester we will experiment with ChatGPT and other AI programs as a regular part of course assignnments.

Your final course grade will be an average of grades for the major assignments, listed and weighted below.

WMU Climate Change Syllabus Statement:

Climate change is a serious social problem, and examination of the climate disruptions due to global warming may evoke a strong emotional response. Some who come to understand the dire consequences of the climate crisis may experience what has been called 'climate grief' or 'climate anxiety.' To seek counseling, become informed about ways to deal with climate anxiety, or to get involved with others who are as concerned about the climate crisis, view the resources listed on the WMU Climate Change Working Group website.

Furthermove, WMU has many additional resources to foster student health and well being.

My office is 723 Sprau Tower, 387-2605. Office hours are before and after class and by appointment. You can always reach me via email.

Reading

books

Lynas, Mark. Our Final Warning (2020).

Vince, Gaia. Nomad Century: How Climate Migration Will Reshape Our World (2022).

A Young Adult Novel from this list:
Gratz, Alan. Two Degrees (2022).
Butler, Octavia. Parable of the Sower (1993)
Jensen, Liz. The Rapture (2012).
Smith, Sherri. Orleans (2014).
Shusterman, Neal & Jarrod. Dry (2019).
Robinson, Kim Stanley. The Ministry of the Future (2020).

Nakate, Vanessa. A Bigger Picture: My Fight to Bring a New African Voice to the Climate Crisis (2021).

Additional reading and viewing linked to this syllabus and/or provided by the professor.

Major Assignments

Class Participation (15%)

Participation in WMU Spring Into Action (Due: biweekly) (15%)

Cli-Fi Short Story, AI assisted (Due: Feb 5) (15%)

Teaching YA Cli-Fi Project (Due: Feb 14) (10%)

Climate Migration Public Document (Due: Feb 28) (10%)

Saving the World Strategy Paper (Due: Apr 8) (15%)

Climate Justice Blog Post (Due: Apr 15) (10%)

Final Exam (10%)

Wed Jan 10: Our Climate Present

1. Read carefully through the entire on-line syllabus. Bring any questions about the syllabus and assignments to class.

2. Join our class phone message system, Remind, by sending this message, "@a446b2" to this number "81010" using your cell phone (your cell phone number will remain private). You can also send the message to 5863590468. 

4. Study the Spring into Action Calendar and put events on your calendar that you can attend, at least one event every two weeks. 

3. Read: Our Final Warning, Foreward & One Degree.

Mon Jan 15: MLK Day

Attend an MLK Day Event

Wed Jan 17: Our Climate Future?

1. Read: Our Final Warning, Two Degrees & Three Degrees.

2. By Friday attend and report to the class on a Spring into Action event. 

Mon Jan 22: Our Climate Future?

1. Read: Our Final Warning, Four Degrees & Five Degress

Wed Jan 24: Our Climate Future?

1. Read: Finish Our Final Warning, Six Degrees & The Endgame

Mon Jan 29: Cli-Fi Short Stories

1. Read: "How Close to the Savage Soul," "Into the Storm," "Hermie," "LOSD and Font."

Wed Jan 31: Creating AI Cli-Fi Short Stories

2. By Friday attend and report to the class on a Spring into Action event. 

Mon Feb 5:Build and Present AICli-Fi.com Website

1. Due: AICli-Fi.com Short Story Assignment.

Wed Feb 7: YA Cli-Fi Literature Circles

1. Read: At least 1/3 of your YA Cli-Fi novel.

Mon Feb 12: YA Cli-Fi Literature Circles

1. Read: Finish your YA Cli-Fi novel.

Wed Feb 14: Teaching YA Cli-Fi Novels

1. Due: YA Cli-Fi Teaching Assignment

2. Teaching Projects: 2 Degrees, The Rapture, Dry, and Orleans.

3. By Friday attend and report to the class on a Spring into Action event.

Mon Feb 19: Climate Migration

1. Read: From Nomad Century Introduction & Chapters 1, 2, 3, & 4.

Wed Feb 21: Climate Migration

1. Read: From Nomad Century Chapters 5, 6, & 7.

2. Start thinking about the Climate Migration Public Document you want to work with AI to create.

Mon Feb 26: Climate Migration

1. Read: Finish Nomad Century Chapters 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, & Conclusion & Manifesto.

Wed Feb 28: Present Climate Migration Documents

1. Due: Climate Migration Public Document

2. By Friday attend and report to the class on a Spring into Action event. 

Mar 4-8: Spring Break

Mon Mar 11: Scientific & Political Impediments

1. Read: From Five Times Faster Chapters 4, 5, & 8.

Wed Mar 13: Money, Power & Politics

1. Read: At least 4 articles and plan to present on 2:

1) US Approve Biggest Fossil Fuel Extraction?; 2) US Oil and Gas Production Exceeds Record; 3) Cop 28 Agreement; 4) Warning Against Technological Solutions; 5) OPEC Influences Climate Negotiations; 6) Saudi Arabia Plans to Hook Poor Countries on Oil 7) Huge Expansion of Oil Pipelines; 8) Oil and Gas Emissions 3x Higher than Claimed; 9) Fossil Fuel Lobbyists at Climate Summit; 10) Saudis Keep World Hooked on Oil; 11) Texas Group Fights Climate Action; and, 12) Oil Firms Dismiss Climate Action.

Mon Mar 18: Facing the Future

1. Read: The Ministry for the Future Chapters 1-27.

Wed Mar 20: Saving the Future

1. Read: The Ministry for the Future Chapters 28-49.

2. By Friday attend and report to the class on a Spring into Action event. 

Mon Mar 25: Saving the Future

1. Read: The Ministry for the Future Chapters 56-77.

2. Look at: Stategies for Saving the Future Paper.

Wed Mar 27: Saving the Future

1. Read: The Ministry for the Future Chapters 78-end.

Mon Apr 1: Taking Action

Read/View: United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, IPCC, Paris Agreement, IPCC, Greta's TED Talk, School Strike Movement

Research: Drawing on your own inquiry prepare to present to the class about climate youth activism, organizations, activists, and actions. Topics include: Fridays for the Future, Sunrise, 350.Org, etc.

Wed Apr 3:Joining the Climate Movement

1. Read: A Bigger Picture, Chapters 1-3.

2. By Friday attend and report to the class on a Spring into Action event. 

Mon Apr 8: Climate Activism & Climate Justice

1. Read: A Bigger Picture, Chapters 4-9.

2. Due: Stategies for Saving the Future Paper.

Wed Apr 10: Climate Activism & Climate Justice

1. Read: A Bigger Picture, Chapters 10-end.

Mon Apr 15: Climate Justice

Research: A topic in Climate Justice and Create a Post on Climate Justice Blog.

Wed Apr 17: Connecting with Climate Activists

1. Read: Climate Justice blog posts (at least 10)

2. Respond to Climate Justice blog posts (at least 5)

3. Read: Instagram & X (Twitter) or other social media used by environmental activists, and prepare to report to the class what you learn.

4. By Friday attend and report to the class on a Spring into Action event. 

Fri Apr 19: Earth Week and Climate March and Rally 

Apr. 22-26 Finals Week

Wed Apr 22 12:30-2:30: Final Exam