360° for Fall 2012 Looks at the Global Impact of Oil

Posted March 15th, 2012 at 1:56 pm.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy

One of three newly designed 360° course clusters being offered for Fall 2012 examines the global impact of oil on the modern city and the world’s socioeconomic networks. “Transforming the Legacy of Oil” combines courses from Growth and Structure of Cities, Economics, and History to assess how oil has affected our built environment as well as local and global economies.

“Oil, like the spice trade, tea, etc. connects buildings and institutions in different places and time periods,” write the professors offering the 360°. “While economists and planners have looked extensively at international networks and their local effects, researchers have yet to closely examine relationships among global socioeconomic networks, architectural developments and urban form.”

Faculty members involved in this 360° are Chair and Professor of Economics David Ross, teaching “Taming the Modern Corporation,” Professor Carola Hein of Growth and Structure of Cities, teaching “The Global Architecture of Oil,” and History Professor Elliott Shore, teaching “Legacy of Penn’s Oil.”

Students and faculty participating in this 360° will organize a conference on “The Transforming Legacy of Oil in Philadelphia,” to be held Jan. 18-19. The conference will bring together students, academics, planning representatives, and industry professionals to focus on the oil industry’s impact on the city of Philadelphia.

“It is impossible to overstate the impact on the evolution of the modern city and today’s network of global commerce of the 150 year legacy of the fractional distillation of petroleum oils. Sunoco’s exit from petroleum refining in tandem with speculation that we have reached the peak of global extraction of crude oil seems a good time to draw on multiple disciplines to reflect on this legacy using Philadelphia as our laboratory,” write the 360° professors.

An information tea will be held Tuesday, March 20, at 4-5 p.m. in Dalton 25 for students interested in taking part in “360°: The Legacy of Oil.” Registration for 360°s take place during preregistration (April 2-13).  Class size is limited to 15 students.

“Transforming the Legacy of Oil” Course Descriptions:

The Global Architecture of Oil: [Hein] This course examines oil’s global impact on built environment, following the trail of petroleum around the world.  It uses the global architecture of oil—of its extraction, administration, and resale—to examine the impact of international economic networks on architecture and urban form since the mid-19th century.

Taming the Modern Corporation: [Ross] Large corporations dominate the national and global economies, and Standard Oil, BP and Sunoco are outstanding examples. They have made a standard of living, where they are regularly found to be selling unsafe products at unnecessarily high prices using methods that harm the environment and the workers, a reality. Industrial organization economists are fundamentally concerned with finding ways to tame the excesses of modern corporations, without killing the goose that lays the golden egg.

Legacy of Penn’s Oil: [Shore] This course offers students the opportunity to grapple with the curatorial challenges of seeing a conference as both a process and a product.  “Legacy of Penn’s Oil” will provide the historical background on the discovery, transportation, and impact of oil in Pennsylvania. It will cover the development of the nascent advertising industry and the robust periodical publishing businesses in Philadelphia as it worked to market and report on the growing impact of oil.

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.

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