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Contemporary Topics and Multidisciplinary Writing

W19 topic: Climate, Crisis, and Interdisciplinarity

What are academic disciplines? Why are there so many of them? What are the relationships between them (if any)? How is a major also a philosophy or theory of knowledge? Why is writing central to the disciplines? How do those disciplines treat writing similarly or differently and why? What can be gained by writing in, across, and through these disciplinary differences?

This class offers a meaningful synthesis and analysis of the rhetorical structures and conventions by examining them via the theme of climate change and crisis. Climate is uniquely useful for thinking about these questions, because its global effects are inextricable from local conditions, and that combination of the local and global poses challenges and requires efforts from all fields of inquiry and scholarship.

In this course, we will address the following questions. What are the basic physics of climate? How does climate determine oceanographic and terrestrial properties, and vice versa? How do these interactions shape biology? How do species cope with climate change – and how does the human species induce that change? What stories do we tell about climate, and how does it influence our history? When we seek to address it, what political and economic mechanisms do we use, and how do we approach the problems from an engineering perspective? How do individuals and populations imagine and reckon with climate change? And finally, how does climate change challenge our ethics and our philosophies?