The idea of the Anthropocene – the geological Age of Man – has become widely adopted as a way of describing the entanglement of human activities and the natural world after its popularization by Paul Crutzen in 2000. It is simultaneously a narrative about the relationship between humans and nature, people and the planet, and an argument about how we got there. As such it is a powerful idea that merits deeper engagement. This course critically examines the history of the idea from George Perkins Marsh’s Man and Nature (1864) until today, its adoption in science and popular culture, as well as its key claims about the long-term impact of humanity on the planet, in order to provide a deep understanding of the scientific and cultural background of the concept and its impact on scientific communication and political practice.
The course combines a series of recorded lectures with a student-centered pedagogy requiring a high degree of student involvement. We will integrate digital tools such as student blogs, participatory mapping, virtual field trips, and discussion forums in the course, supporting community-building and collaborative project assignments as well as individual assignment.
The course is a faculty course designed for students in the humanities, social science and environmental science.