Spring 2012 360° Combines Courses from Cities, Education, and Math to Examine Sustainability Issues

Posted October 20th, 2011 at 4:00 pm.

A 360° course cluster planned for the spring of 2012 combines courses from the Growth and Structure of Cities, Education, and Math departments to assess how planning and design interventions as well as changes in governance or education (in the broadest sense) can address challenges to the urban and natural environment.

Titled “Perspectives on Sustainability,” this 360° offers a multidisciplinary investigation of urban and educational policies and implementation issues that are crucial to issues of sustainability, while mathematical modeling provides frameworks to examine the evolution and current state of cities in terms of their built environments, their ecological footprints, and their educational systems.

Faculty members taking part in the 360° are Professor Carola Hein of the Growth and Structure of Cities Department, Senior Lecturer in Education Jody Cohen, and Professor of Mathematics Victor Donnay.

Students interested in 360°: Perspectives on Sustainability must preregister and complete this questionnaire at the time of preregistration. This questionnaire must be completed and submitted to the instructors no later than by the end of Friday, Nov. 4 (midnight). Incomplete or late submissions cannot be considered.

Students considering enrolling in 360°: Perspectives on Sustainability can attend a lunchtime discussion with the participating faculty members on Friday, Oct. 21, from noon-1:30 p.m. in the Dorothy Vernon Room of Haffner. Those needing a lunch ticket should contact Cohen via email.

Students must register for all three course in the 360°, and one additional course outside the cluster. Enrollment is limited to 15 students.

360° description from the participating faculty:

Today we are facing numerous and interrelated challenges to the urban and natural environment, including rapid climate change, rising population numbers, and the extreme socio-economic differences that go hand in hand with them. Initiatives from green building to education for sustainability are aimed at reconsidering what is needed to adapt cities to current challenges and requirements.

To assess how planning and design interventions, changes in governance or education in the broadest sense can be most successful, and to provide students with concrete tools to assess the impact of the choices human beings make, our 360° offers a multi-disciplinary investigation of urban and educational policies and implementation issues that are crucial to issues of urban sustainability, while mathematical modeling provides frameworks to examine the evolution and current state of cities in terms of their built environments, their ecological footprints, and their educational systems.

We envision that such a multi-perspectival analysis—as well as the tools and methods of urban studies, mathematics, and educationunderstood broadly to include the ways ideas are framed, conveyed, taken up, and acted upon (or not)will open the way for fresh insights into current and possible activism and help par ticipants frame their thinking and actions aimed at improving sustainability within and beyond urban spaces.

Perpectives on Sustainibility Course Descriptions:

Building Green: Sustainable Design Past and Present [Hein] At a time when more than half of the human population lives in cities, the design of the urban environment is a key aspect of environmental studies. Students investigate issues of sustainable architecture and urban design in past and present. The course has a Praxis component allowing students to put their research on historic and contemporary topics into the context of daily life.

Educating for Ecological Literacy [Jody Cohen] This course examines how education can help people deeply understand and constructively respond to real, complex challenges such as managing shared resources. We consider policies and practices that can empower educators, students, and communities to become “ecologically literate” agents of change for a more sustainable and socially equitable world.

Introduction to Math and Sustainability [Victor Donnay] Using techniques of mathematical modeling including dynamical systems and bifurcation theory (tipping points), students will study quantitative aspects of sustainability problems. Students can take the course either at the 100-level (no advanced mathematics beyond high school mathematics) or, by doing additional work, at the 200-level (pre-requisite is calculus).

360° is a new interdisciplinary experience that engages several aspects of a topic or theme, giving students an opportunity to investigate thoroughly and thoughtfully a multitude of perspectives. A cohort of students takes a cluster of classes over the course of a semester, focusing on the history, economic concerns, cultural intersections and political impact of an era, decision, event, policy, or important scientific innovation. 360° participants hone their arguments and insights through writing and research, develop strategies for teamwork that push the limits of their talents and creativity, and work with professors and scholars to promote big-picture thinking.

Comments are closed.