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Student Spotlight: Researching the Relationship Between Healthcare and the Environment

Green Homes - Thu, 2020-09-17 07:25
September 17, 2020HUCE CommunicationsStudent Spotlight: Researching the Relationship Between Healthcare and the Environment0

By Jillian Murphy, Harvard University Center for the Environment

The Harvard University Center for the Environment (HUCE) successfully hosted 92 students as part of its Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF). SURF provides financial support for student research projects related to the environment. In the context of this program, 'environment' refers to understanding the relationships and balances of the natural and constructed world around us, with a particular emphasis on understanding how anthropogenic activities and policies affect the environment, including the intimate relationships between energy use and demand, environmental integrity and quality, human health, and climate change.

The restructured 2020 summer program, designed for students to work remotely, supported a variety of remote research situations. With each of the grant recipients having finished their projects and begun the Fall term, we heard from two students, Joyce Zhou and Madelyn Mauro, about the results of their research.

Zhou and Mauro were paired with Dr. Tina Duhaime, Nicholas T. Zervas Professor of Neurosurgery (HMS Neurosurgery-MGH) at Harvard Medical School (HMS). The two students worked alongside Dr. Duhaime as part of the Green Children’s Hospital Team, a group of Harvard University students tasked with projects that explore and document the compelling relationship between healthcare and the environment.

Their first project, “The History of LEED-Certified Children’s Hospitals,” was focused on creating an interactive demonstration of where and when LEED-certified children’s hospitals have been built across the US between 2009 and 2019. The goal in synthesizing this data and creating this map was not only to show these LEED-certified children’s hospitals in one place, but also to track the progress of pediatric healthcare’s sustainability. As you scroll through their findings, the interactive map reveals more and more dots showing the evolution of sustainable children’s hospitals in the US. The students note that “to help you build a better understanding of this visualization, you are able to zoom in and move the map around to examine the data with much more detail. Clicking on the dots will reveal more information about specific hospitals, such as name, GPS coordinates, bed count, and LEED certification status.”

Their second project, “Visualizing the Children’s Hospitals Association (CHA),” explores the geographic locations of US-based CHA member hospitals in relation to social and environmental conditions. The map associated with these findings examines the locations of pediatric hospitals in relation to the communities they serve and aims to raise awareness of the number of inequities surrounding the lack of access to pediatric healthcare. The map works similarly to that of their first project; its interactive nature allows you to move around within it to parse through their data findings. There are 12 layers to their map, all revealing the relationship between nation-wide demographic factors and pediatric hospital locations with their associated classifications. The 12 layers are as follows: Freestanding Pediatric Hospitals, Separate Pediatric Hospitals, Co-Localized Pediatric Hospitals, Scattered Units Pediatric Hospitals, Other Pediatric Hospitals, Population Density, Pediatric Population Percentage, Median Household Income, Health Insurance Coverage, Particulate Matter, LEED-Certified CHA Member Hospitals, and Health Insurance Coverage.

Zhou ‘23, a Neuroscience concentrator, and Mauro ‘23, a concentrator in Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology with a Secondary in Classics, benefitted greatly from working with Dr. Duhaime. The two students jointly stated their appreciation for the HUCE-sponsored experience and shared that, “we were able to deeply engage with sustainable healthcare, and this experience inspires us to continue to pursue these meaningful intersections.”

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HUCE Summer Undergraduate Researchers Reflect

Green Homes - Wed, 2020-09-09 08:31
September 9, 2020HUCE Summer Undergraduate Researchers Reflect 0

This year, the Harvard University Center for the Environment (HUCE), awarded 92 undergraduate students with research grants through the Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF). This large number of awardees—about four times the usual number—was made possible by faculty members who stepped forward to both help mentor and fund students, the generous donations of Bert and Barbara Cohn, Robert Ziff, and the Diker Family Fund for Energy and Environment, as well as the following participating programs: Harvard College Research Program, Program for Research in Science and Engineering, Solar Geoengineering Research Program, Oceanography Committee, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Department of Nutrition. 

HUCE's SURF provides financial support for student research projects related to the environment. In the context of this program, 'environment' refers to understanding the relationships and balances of the natural and constructed world around us, with a particular emphasis on understanding how anthropogenic activities and policies affect the environment, including the intimate relationships between energy use and demand, environmental integrity and quality, human health, and climate change.

The restructured 2020 summer program, designed for students to work remotely from their spring sequester locations, supported a variety of remote research situations. Student applicants were encouraged to look through the HUCE research assistantship opportunity list and consider submitting an application with their top five preferences. In addition, they were given the opportunity to contact a HUCE Faculty Associate to propose a research assistantship separate from this list. With the help of the aforementioned funding, participating programs, and willing faculty, SURF was expanded in response to the pandemic to help a much larger group of students, many of whom found themselves without many of the opportunities that they had planned on. Of the 92 awards offered, 8 were for independent research and 84 were for research assistantships with Harvard faculty. The 2020 cohort is comprised of undergraduate concentrators in Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Engineering, Computer Science, Visual and Environmental Studies, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Statistics, Mathematics, Economics, English, and Environmental Science and Public Policy. 

At about the halfway point of the generally 8-week project timeline, HUCE reached out to all participating students to find out how their summer research was going and to get a glimpse into their remote worlds through pictures of them at their works stations. Below are the students who participated in the social media series that came out of their responses. 

"This summer, I’m working with Dr. Stacy Blondin from the Department of Nutrition at Harvard’s School of Public Health.  I’m conducting data analysis for VerEatTas, a study aimed at improving the sustainability of menu items selected in Harvard’s undergraduate dining halls through various behavioral nudges, such as environmental impact labels on menus and the Mange grill app. I absolutely love the work. It’s an incredible opportunity to apply what I’m learning in my statistics, computer science, and data science classes to a topic I’m very passionate about: the intersection of environmental sustainability, nutrition, and behavioral economics. Thank you so much to HUCE for making this experience possible!" —Dasha Metropolitansky

"I’ve most enjoyed exploring a new application of math, as well as getting to know the rest of the people on the research team!" —Sarah King on working with Eli Tziperman

"I'm working with HLS Professor Susan Crawford on a book project analyzing the nation's capacity to adapt in the face of climate change. I have focused on what funding sources are available to cities like Charleston, SC that are highly vulnerable to hurricanes and flooding. Professor Crawford is an amazing researcher and mentor—it has been a wonderful experience to work with her this summer! The research has also been incredibly eye-opening for me. I've been made increasingly aware of just how vulnerable the US is to natural disasters and what needs to be done to prepare for more frequent and catastrophic weather events." —Ariel Silverman

"Working with Professor Tziperman on using Arctic sea ice observations to detect a signal of anthropogenic climate change has been an amazing learning experience for me. I loved creating data visualizations in Python and also getting to know the graduate students and their research!" —Diana Zhu

"In collaboration with Living on Earth and LabXchange, I have been building a free environmental justice online course. It's been a joy working with Dr. Wendy Purcell and Professor Jack Spengler of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and getting to interface with EJ education researchers and experts in the field. It's taught me so much about curriculum design and has continued to broaden my knowledge of the justice gap that exists in the environmental movement at large, and in environmental education specifically. I'm incredibly grateful for the support of the HUCE SURF, the HUCBE Sustainability Grant, and that of Timothy R. Barakett." —Guillaume Bouchard

"I've been working with Dr. Daren Card in the lab of Professor Scott Edwards to annotate the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) in lizard and snake genomes. I’ve enjoyed learning to see the world from a zoological perspective: it has opened my eyes to the diversity of birds and lizards around me during my quarantine walks/hikes. Another thing I’ve found out is just how much we can learn about organisms using previously collected data. We haven’t gone into the lab or field to work on this project, and yet we’re still able to trawl through an incredible amount of publicly available data to learn something new. I’ve also been exposed to a variety of wonderful talks from lab members and guests at lab meeting, and I’m grateful to work with and learn from such amazing people this summer." —Andrew Van Camp

“Working with Professor Michael B. McElroy and PhD candidate Peter Sherman on evaluating projected changes to electricity demand in India associated with air conditioning has been extremely rewarding. I’ve really enjoyed being able to delve into this hugely important but often overlooked piece of the decarbonisation puzzle while honing my technical skills. I’m very grateful to HUCE for this fantastic opportunity to work with such wonderful mentors on something I care deeply about!” —Emilly Fan

"I have been conduction supervised independent research in environmental economics and policy under Professor Robert Stavins on the topic of commercial aviation in the context of global climate change. I enjoyed evaluating various methods such as carbon offset schemes and flight route optimization through which airlines could minimize carbon emissions and help ensure a more sustainable future. I am incredibly grateful to HUCE and Professor Stavins for supporting my summer research!" —Andrew Kim

"I have been working with Professor Henry Lee on 'Environment and Natural Resources Program Research' to better understand the scalability of EV and environmental issues related to their battery packs. I find it immensely rewarding to survey the EV landscape and dive deep into the maturity and cost of the battery technology the industry draws from. From analyzing the externalities presented by battery production and disposal, to modeling the net present value and cost differential of purchasing an ICE vehicle versus an EV, I learned a great deal about the economics of New Energy Vehicle and environmental risks associated with green technologies." —William Wu

“Working with Postdoctoral Fellow Agnes Thorarinsdottir in the Nocera Group has been one of the best experiences of this summer. I was able to research the field of solar-driven water electrolysis for a sustained hydrogen economy and learned about the true breadth of academic research, resulting in me considering a PhD because of it. I was also able to form a closer connection with my advisor and experience the mentorship that follows higher education. I would not hesitate to say this experience has nontrivially altered my career plans.” —Bhushan Patel

"I’ve had such a great experience assisting Dr. Stacy Blondin at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health on her VerEatTas study, an initiative to improve the environmental footprint and raise awareness of the moral and ethical implications of food choices at Harvard. Using a behavioral economics approach to influence the food choice environment in the undergraduate dining halls, I’ve been doing data analysis on how this can be used to increase the prevalence of a sustainable diet. I’ve also been working with Drs. Walter Willett, Eric Rimm and Stacy Blondin on a COVID-19 Nutrition taskforce analyzing the impact of COVID-19 on food security and nutrition across the United States. Researching the benefits of sustainable diets and their positive influence on health, the environment, food security, and social justice has been extremely rewarding and I’ve really enjoyed combining my interests in nutrition and sustainability while also getting to further develop my data science and research skills. Both projects have solidified my interest in these topics, and I am so thankful to HUCE for this opportunity!" —Elizabeth Pachus

   

 

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Two Online Classes Aim to Bridge All Harvard Students, Schools

Green Homes - Wed, 2020-08-26 08:30
August 26, 2020

The Harvard Gazette

Two Online Classes Aim to Bridge All Harvard Students, Schools0

By Nate Herpich, Harvard Correspondent

Two prominent professors are inviting all Harvard degree students to join in two University-wide courses this fall designed to spark conversation and mutual learning across the campuses. Michael Sandel, Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government, will offer “Justice: Ethics in an Age of Pandemic and Racial Reckoning,” and Daniel Schrag, Sturgis Hooper Professor of Geology and Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering, will teach “Confronting Climate Change: A Foundation in Science, Technology, and Policy.” Every Harvard undergraduate, graduate, and professional school student can enroll in these online courses. The Gazette spoke with Sandel and Schrag to learn about their “One Harvard, One Online Classroom” offerings and how they hope to take advantage of a virtual setting to bring together people who otherwise might not have the chance to learn from each other.

GAZETTE: How did you both begin to put together courses for this spring that are available to students across the Schools? And how did the University’s shift to virtual learning affect your preparation?

SCHRAG: For me, Michael’s course with Doug Melton on “Tech Ethics,” which debuted last fall, provided the proof that this kind of University-wide course could be successful. This spring, I went for a long walk with Vice Provost for Advances in Learning Bharat Anand, and using Michael and Doug’s course as an example, he said we really should have a similar University-wide course model on climate change as well. And the idea just seemed so obviously a good one. For more than a decade now, I’ve also been talking about how climate change is something that touches every School at Harvard, and requires input from every corner of the University.

Last fall, Michael successfully pulled off his course in person at Klarman Hall at the Business School, and he and Doug did so without a platform such as Zoom, which is extraordinary. Being thrust into remote learning this past March taught all of us that there are some opportunities and advantages of Zoom over conventional teaching: frankly, getting people from the Medical School, and the School of Public Health, and the Business School, and the Divinity School, and the College, and the Design School, and the School of Education all together at the same time, every week.

SANDEL: Climate change is a course that is ideally suited to being a University course; it will be exciting to bring students from across the University into a common conversation from their various disciplinary perspectives about climate change. I’m delighted to be in partnership with Dan in this “One Harvard, One Online Classroom” experiment this coming semester.

When Bharat, Doug, and I discussed our course on tech ethics prior to last fall, we quickly realized that it would lend itself to a University-wide discussion, because it draws on elements of ethics in the humanities, but also in the sciences, medicine, law, public policy, public health, education, and even spiritual matters.

We decided to hold the course in Klarman Hall at HBS, which is a new, stunning, high-tech version of Sanders Theater. We didn’t know whether students from the College would cross the river to attend. But they did. We had about 720 students in total; 600 from Harvard College, and another 120 from the various professional Schools. We did realize, though, that it was harder for students from the Schools on the Longwood campus to attend. I hope the new virtual model will make it easier for them to join us.

GAZETTE: What are your expectations for your courses this semester?

SCHRAG: We’ll have to see how this semester goes and how effective the Zoom platform is for running these courses. I think of my wife, who’s a physician, and since March has been seeing many patients by video. It will be interesting to see if telemedicine becomes a kind of standard for our health care because, boy, it’s a lot easier than going in and waiting in line and parking and all the rest of it to go see your doctor for 20 minutes. I wonder if the same is true for us. I don’t think we’ll go to teaching by Zoom permanently; I think that would be a tragedy because there’s so much advantage to seeing people in person, but I do wonder if selective use of this technology going forward will allow us to teach these kinds of courses more permanently, and if it will have a lasting, positive effect on our work.

SANDEL: I think these are great questions. Dan, you highlight the hopeful side of what has become for us a necessity, this experiment in remote teaching. It will be interesting to see what we learn from it and what educational advantages may come with it.

This semester I’m teaching “Justice: Ethics in an Age of Pandemic and Racial Reckoning.” I’m quite optimistic that the Zoom platform will enable robust, engaged discussion. The questions we explore in “Justice” are our questions about values, including disagreements about values. One of the aims of the course is to invite students to reflect critically on their own moral and political convictions — to reason and argue effectively, to persuade, and be persuaded by, those with whom they disagree. These are the kinds of discussions we’ve traditionally had with students present to one another, in Sanders Theater or Klarman Hall. The challenge will be to see whether this vigorous dialogue, which is a central dimension of the course, can succeed online. I believe it can. There may even be some unexpected advantages.

SCHRAG: Michael, I’ve watched some of your “Justice” course when it was conducted in person in Sanders Theater, and I must say, I’m absolutely in awe of the way you engage students in the most respectful way, through these debates. I know you must have strong feelings one way or another sometimes yourself, but you treat students respectfully and engage them, challenge them in a very open, encouraging way. My plan for this semester is to break my class up into smaller discussion groups, giving many more people a chance to speak because they will be in groups of six to eight students. The downside of that is I won’t be there as a moderator. And I’m curious about how you’re thinking about that.

SANDEL: I’m still puzzling my way through this. Thank you for the generous question; I consider that we are engaged in this experiment together, notwithstanding the different subject matters of our courses.

I’m trying to strike that balance by combining discussion with the entire class with small breakout group discussions, moving back and forth between the large setting and the small. Some students are comfortable contributing to a large group discussion, while others find it easier to speak up in smaller settings. Reconvening the full class after a breakout session may enable some students who contributed to the small group discussion to feel empowered to speak before the larger group of their classmates. That’s one format we’ll use. On other days, we’re going to use prepared video excerpts of lectures about some of the philosophers, such as Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, for example, and then have small group discussions led by teaching fellows.

How similar or how different is that from the kind of breakout sessions that that you are planning?

SCHRAG: There’s a huge amount of similarity, I think, in general approach. I’ve prepared the core science and technology content for students to access through about 60 eight- to 10-minute videos, which I liken to mini science documentaries more than lectures. They delve into the basic physics of climate change. How does sea level rise work? What were climates like in the Pleistocene epoch, or the Eocene epoch, 40 million years ago? And how does that relate to global warming today? How are storms being affected by climate change? There’s a lot of information transfer, a little bit like your discussion of the philosophers, through these videos.

Students will watch three or four of these videos each week, but these videos will not be the main focus for the small group conversations. My plan is to spend maybe the first 10 minutes reviewing the major take-home messages from those videos, you know, the absolute essential points that I want everybody to understand. But then I want to transition the class and bring in a voice from the outside. So, for example, yesterday, I recorded our colleague Naomi Oreskes from History of Science talking about climate skeptics. She’s written three books on the subject.

So, the first class, we’re going to listen to Naomi and talk about climate skeptics in a conversation with me, on Zoom, for 10 minutes. We will then go into breakout groups to digest some of the questions that are raised, and then come back to the main group, in a way that is very much similar to what you’re doing. And then use the sections taught by teaching fellows to allow the students to get into the nitty-gritty detail of what was in those video documentaries.

GAZETTE: There’s been a lot of conversation in the field of higher education about how to balance the need for asynchronous content, especially for students who may be living in a time zone far away from their college or university, with synchronous content that brings people together in conversation. It sounds as if you’ve thought of how to provide a balance of both.

SANDEL: I’ve been wrestling with the question of whether to post a full video library right from the start of the semester, and say, if you want to binge watch, racing ahead, you can. The drawback of the binge-watching approach is that it makes it harder for students to absorb and discuss this material with me, with their teaching fellows, and with their classmates.

SCHRAG: I have another question for Michael. One of the key parts of my class is a project, which this year, because of the virtual format, will be done in small groups. This project is a very practical one: It’s designing a zero-carbon economy, and it forces students to think about this problem in a way that goes way beyond just a lecture, and into experiential learning. I’m curious how that’s going to work out in this virtual semester, but I’m hoping it’s going to be effective. Is there anything comparable in your class?

SANDEL: I’ve also been trying to think about this; how to encourage students to work together, while still giving students the option of doing and submitting their own work for evaluation. We’re offering two options. One track is the traditional paper option: three short papers on a range of topics about ethical questions. This is designed to equip students to write a clear, analytic, persuasive argument about an ethical question, drawing where relevant on the philosophers, but making an argument in their own voice. The other track is one traditional paper, and a project that culminates in a podcast, or a video, that develops a persuasive argument about an ethical question.

The team of former teaching fellows who helped me develop this course over the summer made the point that if we’re teaching students to reason in public about hard ethical questions, we should give them the option of creating something that could actually be posted online as a contribution to public debate. They encouraged me to add the podcast option. Like a traditional paper, it would analyze the ethical dimensions of a contemporary issue. But it would be in a format that could be made available online, if the student wanted to. We are also giving students the option to work in pairs, especially if they want to do the podcast as a kind of dialogue or debate, with arguments and counter arguments.

GAZETTE: The courses both sound fascinating. Best of luck in this new virtual learning model. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

SCHRAG: I regret to say that in the 23 years that I’ve been at Harvard, I have never sat through a College course in its entirety. And, honestly, watching parts of Michael’s course that are available online, I wish that I had the discipline to make the time to take it in, in its entirety, because it makes you appreciate the incredible wealth of knowledge that exists around this University. I’m hopeful that our “One Harvard, One Online Classroom” offerings will bring together some of the brilliant, diverse minds that make Harvard what it is, and might never meet in our normal mode of teaching.

SANDEL: I feel the same way, and would love to sign up for “Climate Change.” It’s going to be a wonderful course.

 

Students who would like more information on either course can find it here, on Canvas:

GENED 1171 Justice: Ethics in an Age of Pandemic and Racial Reckoning

GENED 1094 Confronting Climate Change: A Foundation in Science, Technology and Policy.

 

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Climate Change Class Is in Session

Green Homes - Fri, 2020-08-14 12:32
August 14, 2020

HUCE Communications

Climate Change Class Is in Session0

An interdisciplinary group of HUCE-affiliated faculty are bringing a wide array of courses focused on climate change to the Program on General Education, the “cornerstone” of the College curriculum. Taught by faculty from across the FAS, these courses epitomize the Gen Ed program’s focus on urgent problems, enduring questions, and multidisciplinary approaches to the world beyond the classroom.

The Fall 2020 semester includes two new courses focused on the existential crisis of climate change. “Climate Crossroads,” brings together the perspectives of atmospheric chemist James Anderson and English professor James Engell.  The course uses the contrast in perspectives to identify “scientifically viable pathways to a future that is sustainable and just.”  HUCE Director Dan Schrag (EPS-SEAS - HKS) has revised his Gen Ed course with a new title, “Confronting Climate Change: A Foundation in Science, Technology and Policy,” and a new approach to virtual teaching. It will be one of two University courses, open to any student at Harvard. The course will also bring in many different HUCE faculty to discuss various perspectives on climate change and the clean energy transition.

In Spring 2021, Lucas Stanczyk from the Department of Philosophy will examine our collective responsibilities with respect to climate change and our obligations to future generations in his course “Ethics of Climate Change”; Joyce Chaplin, from the Department of History, will interrogate the debates over imperiled natural resources and competing human needs in her course, “Nature”; and Michael McElroy (EPS-SEAS) will explore the intersection of climate change and global energy systems in “The Challenge of Human Induced Climate Change: Transitioning to a Post Fossil Fuel Future.”

Finally, three additional Gen Ed courses will focus on issues closely related to climate change. Charles Langmuir’s (EPS) fall course “How to Build a Habitable Planet” places our current environmental challenges in the broader context of planetary evolution.  John Shaw’s (EPS-SEAS) spring course “Energy Resources and the Environment” will examine the full life cycle of energy resources: where they come from geologically, how we acquire and use them economically, and the environmental impact of those activities. “Water and the Environment,” taught in the spring by Kaighin McColl (EPS-SEAS), will consider how the water cycle has contributed to the demise of past civilizations and explore the implications for modern society in a warming world.

Together, these courses represent a significant increase in climate change offerings in the Gen Ed curriculum. Course titles and numbers are listed below. To learn more about these courses and explore all the energy- and environment-related offerings across campus, visit the HUCE Course Guide or the Course Catalog at courses.my.harvard.edu.

Gen Ed 1167 | Climate Crossroads with Professors James Engell, Department of English, and James Anderson, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Gen Ed 1094 | Confronting Climate Change: A Foundation in Science, Technology and Policy with Professor Daniel Schrag, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Gen Ed 1015 | Ethics of Climate Change with Assistant Professor Lucas Stanczyk, Department of Philosophy

Gen Ed 1117 | Nature with Professor Joyce Chaplin, Department of History

Gen Ed 1137 | The Challenge of Human Induced Climate Change: Transitioning to a Post Fossil Fuel Future with Professor Michael McElroy, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Gen Ed 1018 | How to Build a Habitable Planet with Professor Charles Langmuir, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Gen Ed 1158 | Water and the Environment with Assistant Professor Kaighin McColl, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Gen Ed 1085 | Energy Resources and the Environment with Professor John Shaw, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

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Categories: Green Homes

Climate Change Class Is in Session

Green Homes - Fri, 2020-08-14 12:32
August 14, 2020

HUCE Communications

Climate Change Class Is in Session0

An interdisciplinary group of HUCE-affiliated faculty are bringing a wide array of courses focused on climate change to the Program on General Education, the “cornerstone” of the College curriculum. Taught by faculty from across the FAS, these courses epitomize the Gen Ed program’s focus on urgent problems, enduring questions, and multidisciplinary approaches to the world beyond the classroom.

The Fall 2020 semester includes two new courses focused on the existential crisis of climate change. “Climate Crossroads,” brings together the perspectives of atmospheric chemist James Anderson and English professor James Engell.  The course uses the contrast in perspectives to identify “scientifically viable pathways to a future that is sustainable and just.”  HUCE Director Dan Schrag (EPS-SEAS - HKS) has revised his Gen Ed course with a new title, “Confronting Climate Change: A Foundation in Science, Technology and Policy,” and a new approach to virtual teaching. It will be one of two University courses, open to any student at Harvard. The course will also bring in many different HUCE faculty to discuss various perspectives on climate change and the clean energy transition.

In Spring 2021, Lucas Stanczyk from the Department of Philosophy will examine our collective responsibilities with respect to climate change and our obligations to future generations in his course “Ethics of Climate Change”; Joyce Chaplin, from the Department of History, will interrogate the debates over imperiled natural resources and competing human needs in her course, “Nature”; and Michael McElroy (EPS-SEAS) will explore the intersection of climate change and global energy systems in “The Challenge of Human Induced Climate Change: Transitioning to a Post Fossil Fuel Future.”

Finally, three additional Gen Ed courses will focus on issues closely related to climate change. Charles Langmuir’s (EPS) fall course “How to Build a Habitable Planet” places our current environmental challenges in the broader context of planetary evolution.  John Shaw’s (EPS-SEAS) spring course “Energy Resources and the Environment” will examine the full life cycle of energy resources: where they come from geologically, how we acquire and use them economically, and the environmental impact of those activities. “Water and the Environment,” taught in the spring by Kaighin McColl (EPS-SEAS), will consider how the water cycle has contributed to the demise of past civilizations and explore the implications for modern society in a warming world.

Together, these courses represent a significant increase in climate change offerings in the Gen Ed curriculum. Course titles and numbers are listed below. To learn more about these courses and explore all the energy- and environment-related offerings across campus, visit the HUCE Course Guide or the Course Catalog at courses.my.harvard.edu.

Gen Ed 1167 | Climate Crossroads with Professors James Engell, Department of English, and James Anderson, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Gen Ed 1094 | Confronting Climate Change: A Foundation in Science, Technology and Policy with Professor Daniel Schrag, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Gen Ed 1015 | Ethics of Climate Change with Assistant Professor Lucas Stanczyk, Department of Philosophy

Gen Ed 1117 | Nature with Professor Joyce Chaplin, Department of History

Gen Ed 1137 | The Challenge of Human Induced Climate Change: Transitioning to a Post Fossil Fuel Future with Professor Michael McElroy, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Gen Ed 1018 | How to Build a Habitable Planet with Professor Charles Langmuir, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Gen Ed 1158 | Water and the Environment with Assistant Professor Kaighin McColl, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Gen Ed 1085 | Energy Resources and the Environment with Professor John Shaw, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

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Categories: Green Homes

The Amazon Will Soon Burn Again

Green Homes - Thu, 2020-06-18 15:31
June 18, 2020

The New York Times

The Amazon Will Soon Burn Again0

By Bruno Carvalho, Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures​, Harvard University

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — When the dry season returns, the Amazon forest will burn again, as it does every year. But this time promises to be different. Last year’s international headlines caught Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, and his allies by surprise. We can expect their response to the next fire season to contain more smoke and mirrors. It is crucial to focus on their actions.

Deforestation is increasing at an alarming pace. It has grown by 94 percent since August 2019, compared with the previous year’s rate, which had been the highest in a decade. Unlike drier areas in Australia or California, the rainforest can’t catch on fire unless humans cut trees down. The Amazon is being devastated on an industrial scale, and for what? Criminal groups are targeting public lands for low-productivity cattle ranching and mining. Illegal land-grabbing schemes destroy biodiversity and the potentials of bioeconomies, enriching well-connected individuals. Mr. Bolsonaro and his administration encourage it.

Many in Brazil’s elites accepted a Faustian bargain: So long as the government’s economic agenda remains friendly, they look the other way. Now, with all eyes on the pandemic crises, the Amazon and its Indigenous groups face existential threats, while criminals act as if they have permission to plunder.

Oversight and fines for infractions have declined substantially. Last month, Ricardo Salles, the environment minister, fired a director in an enforcement role after he carried out an operation to dismantle illegal mining. The federal government has kept key positions vacant and proposed huge budget cuts to environmental agencies, undermining fire prevention, monitoring and control. The president and his allies support a bill that provides further incentives to deforestation, allowing land grabbers to gain ownership of public lands, including Indigenous territories.

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