360°: Climate Change: Science and Politics

This cluster integrates philosophical, scientific, and policy perspectives to highlight both the complexity of climate change and the many innovative ideas being developed to address it worldwide . We explore how scientific and technological development have combined with societal notions of the good life and public policy initiatives to promote the energy-intensive, growth-oriented consumer society. Examining how the advent of human-induced climate change has prompted new ways of thinking about quality of life, new technological approaches to energy supply, and new political solutions to problems of resource exploitation and environmental justice, students work toward an understanding of new solutions.

Climate Change Courses:

Geology 206: Energy Resources and Sustainability
(fall 2015, fall 2017)

This course, taught by Don Barber, examines the fundamental science governing the supply of energy required by human society. Central concepts include the stability (and variability) of Earth's climate, the carbon cycle, and other environmental impacts of energy production. Throughout the semester, we address the following questions:  What resources supply most of the world’s energy today?  How has our reliance during recent centuries on hydrocarbon-based "fossil" fuels altered the global environment?  What alternative (non-carbon-based) energy resources exist?  What opportunities and challenges are associated with switching to renewable and sustainable sources of energy? What does sustainable mean? Might we use less energy but maintain (or improve) living standards?

Mathematics 195: Math Modeling and Sustainability
(spring 2020, fall 2022)

The world faces many sustainability challenges: climate change, energy, over-population, natural resource depletion. Using techniques of mathematical modeling including dynamical systems and bifurcation theory (tipping points), we will study quantitative aspects of these problems. No advanced mathematics beyond high school mathematics (pre-calculus) is required. Taught by Victor Donnay.

Philosophy 238: Science, Technology, and the Good Life
(fall 2015, fall 2017, spring 2020)

Taught by Robert Dostal, this course attempts to come to an understanding of what science and technology are, their relation to each other, and to every day life. We try to clarify the issues relevant to these questions by looking at the contemporary debates concerning climate change. Using contemporary work in the philosophy of science, political science, and ethics, we will look at the pairing of science with democracy in the Enlightenment project, and consider the debates concerning climate change as exemplary of the conjunction of science, technology and the good life.

Political Science 256: Global Politics of Climate Change
(fall 2015, fall 2017, spring 2020)

This course, taught by Carol Hager, introduces students to the key political issues raised by climate change locally, nationally, and internationally. We focus not only on specific problems, such as energy, water, agriculture, and climate justice, but also on solutions; students learn about technological innovations and policy tools that are being developed across the world in response to the challenges of climate change.

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Contact Us


Sarah Theobald, 360° Coordinator
Taylor 302 B
101 North Merion Avenue
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania 19010
Phone: 610-526-5509