Purdue Courses

The PCCRC supports a learning environment that emphasizes interdisciplinary thinking, collaboration, and a sense of open possibility. We encourage students to see the larger implications and connections of their work, challenging them to dig deeper into issues, broaden their perspective and question assumptions. The center offers internship opportunities to undergraduates, a travel grant program for graduate students and maintains a database of climate-change related courses.

Undergraduate

AGEC 250 Economic Geography of World Food and Resources 

Offered in the spring and fall by Prof. Joseph Balagtas

A study of the important issues and economic decisions about worldwide resource use for food and fiber production as influenced by geography, climate, history, social institutions, national self-interest, and the environment.

AGRY 120 Water and Food Security

Offered in the spring and fall by Prof. Laura Bowling

This course serves as a general science introduction to global and regional water resources issues, especially with respect to food security.  It addresses the role of water in agriculture throughout the world and agriculture’s impact on water resources.  Climate change is an important driver of water and food insecurity.

AGRY 337 Environmental Hydrology

Offered in the spring by Prof. Laura Bowling

This course provides introductory students with both the basics of how water moves through the environment and current theories as to how hydrologic response is modified by environmental change at a variety of temporal and spatial scales.  Usually has one week is specifically focused on climate change and hydrologic impacts.

AGRY 335 Weather and Climate

Typically offered spring by Rich Grant

An introductory course in meteorology and climatology with applications to daily life. The study of fundamental physical principles behind weather and climate and how they apply to the homeowner and the world citizen. Emphasis is on how to interpret weather conditions and forecasts, what controls the wide range of climates in the world, and what the future may hold.

ANTH 326 / ENGL 393 Introduction To Environmental And Sustainability Studies

Offered in the summer, fall, and spring,

This course is the lynchpin of the undergraduate Certificate in Environmental and Sustainability Studies. It will present a series of case studies, core concepts, and problem questions that integrate the following three academic approaches: 1) Human Dimensions and Environment/Sustainability, 2) Engineering and Environment/Sustainability, and 3) Environmental/Sustainability Sciences.

ANTH 327 Environment and Culture

Offered in the fall, spring, or summer by Prof. Laura Zanotti

This course provides a general overview to the field of environmental anthropology, and surveys key methods, and theories that anthropologists use to interpret human-environment interactions. Topics include culture ecology, agroecology, ethnobiology, political ecology, and environmental justice.

ANTH 335 Primate Behavior

Offered in the spring by Prof. Stacy Lindshield

This course is an introduction to the primate order and primate studies. The emphasis is on field studies. Ecological influences on social organization and behavior, learning, play, and communication will be considered as adaptations within an evolutionary framework

CHM 482 / EAPS 391 Environmental Chemistry

Offered in the fall by Prof. Alexander Laskin

Environmental chemistry is the study of chemical processes occurring in the environment both naturally and impacted by humankind's activities. These anthropogenic impacts may be felt on a local scale, through the presence of urban cities' air pollutants or toxic substances arising from a chemical waste site, or on a global scale, through long-range transport, depletion of stratospheric ozone or global warming. The focus of this courses is on developing a fundamental understanding of the nature of the environmental chemical processes, so that humankind's activities can be accurately evaluated and mitigated.  Environmental chemistry is an interdisciplinary science that includes atmospheric, aquatic and soil chemistry, as well as heavily relying on analytical and physical chemistry approaches applied in field and laboratory-based experimental studies of these complex multi-phase processes.

EAPS 109-Y The Dynamic Earth (Distance Learning)

Offered in the spring by Prof. Wen-wen Tung

This new course studies the Earth with the system’s approach, introducing how the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biota interact in response to various internal and external forcings. Basic mechanisms for phenomena such as radiative transfer, greenhouse effect, winds, precipitation, storm formation (hurricanes and tornadoes), ocean currents, El Nino, carbon and nutrient cycles, etc., are discussed. Climate changes within and between the components in the Earth system and the resulting feedbacks are examined.

EAPS 111 Physical Geology

Offered in the summer, fall, and spring by Prof. Saad Haq

Geologic processes and the development of land forms. Laboratory covers the study of minerals and rocks, the interpretations of topographic and geologic maps, and field investigations.

EAPS 112 The Earth Through Time

Offered every other Spring by Profs. Nat Lifton and Darryl Granger and every other Fall by Prof. Stephanie Olson

which will have a significant climate component (among other things) looking back through Earth’s history. From the catalog - The history of the planet Earth from its beginnings to the present. This course explores the causes and effects of processes that have changed the Earth's surface and subsurface through time, the impacts of these changes on the evolution of life, and how scientists interpret Earth history from the geologic record. 

EAPS 120 Introduction to Geography

Offered in the fall, spring online by Prof. Qianlai Zhuang

Introduction to the major themes of modern geography, designed to enhance your spatial thinking skills, geographic literacy, and to help you understand the relevance of geographic concepts and how they relate to our changing world. This course will expand your awareness of global issues and provide you with tools to understand how the world changes around you at local, regional, and global scales.

EAPS 129 Earth System Dynamics

Offered in the spring, summer and fall by Prof. Wen-wen Tung

Provides foundational knowledge and critical thinking skills to discuss the Earth’s changing climate and environment and their impacts.  Introduces how the components of the Earth system - atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biota – interact with each other in response to various forcings.  Course is designed to enhance learners’ geospatial-temporal thinking skills and geoscience literacy, as well as analyze some of the ‘what if’ scenarios using a ‘systems approach’.

EAPS 221 Survey of Atmospheric Science

Offered in the spring, summer and fall by Prof. Mike Baldwin

An introductory course for both science and nonscience students. A general study of the atmosphere, basic meteorological principles, and weather systems. Relationships of the changing atmosphere to climate ozone depletion, and other contemporary issues.

EAPS 225 Science of the Atmosphere

Typically offered in the spring by Prof. Dan Chavas

An overview of the physics and dynamics of the atmosphere. Quantitative study of the energy balance of the atmosphere, condensation and precipitation processes, atmospheric motion and global circulation, severe storms, atmospheric chemistry. Contemporary issues such as human impact on climate, ozone depletion, numerical weather prediction and climate simulation, and modern measurement systems. Not available to students with credit in EAPS 22100. Intended for Science and Engineering majors only. Prior course work in calculus is required.

EAPS 310 Introductory statistics for geosciences

Offered in the spring by Prof. Gluhovsky

This course is based on computer-intensive bootstrap methods that have revolutionized the practice of statistics over the last two decades. Unlike standard statistical methods, they work for complex geosciences data sets, and they are easy to learn, as they don’t require math beyond high-school algebra.

The course also includes traditionally taught basics and has been approved for EAPS undergrads to meet the Statistics requirement.

EAPS 320 Physics of Climate,

Typically offered Spring semester by Prof. Matt Huber

To understand climate we describe and synthesize physical processes in the atmosphere and their coupling to the ocean, ice, and land. We quantitatively explore climatology with an equal balance of physical principles and scrutiny of available modern data. Topics include: visualization of atmospheric/land surface/oceanographic climatological data sets; theories of climate dynamics; and climate change. Beginning with radiative balance and simple energy balance models, the course progresses toward understanding the effects of radiative-convective forcing and rotation on the fluid envelopes. Analysis of data in an interactive computer-enabled environment is an important part of the course. By the end of this course, the student should know how the Earth System behaves at large scales and grasp the physical understandings of why.

EAPS 327 Climate, Science, and Society

Typically offered fall and spring by Profs. Lisa Welp and Matt Huber

The primary goal of this course is to teach Climate Science Literacy.  Climate change is one of the most complex societal problems of the day, spanning disciplines as far ranging as atmospheric chemistry, biogeochemistry, ecology, economics, ethics, and policy.  Students will gain an in-depth understanding of Earth’s climate system; how it works and how humans are changing it.  They will learn about potential problems such as sea level rise, trends in storm frequency and intensity, severity of droughts and the occurrence of extreme weather events.  This course will provide knowledge and skills necessary for informed citizenship by encouraging students to apply scientific information to evaluate public discussions and policy decisions related to climate change.

EAPS 360 Great Issues In Science and Society

Typically offered Fall.by Prof Gouri Prabhakar

This course develops basic skills and knowledge critical to analyze issues of energy use, climate change, and sustainability that incorporate both societal and scientific perspectives. The goal of this course is not to arrive at particular consensus solutions to the problems associated with these issues but instead to foster an informed (through information literacy) debate that will ultimately be waged as solutions are sought. Working in teams the students work throughout the semester to complete a capstone teamwork project and a group presentation. Counts for Great Issues course in College of Science.

EAPS 364 Natural Hazards: Science and Society

Offered in the spring by Prof. Timothy Filley

The primary goal of this course is to teach Climate Science Literacy.  Climate change is one of the most complex societal problems of the day, spanning disciplines as far ranging as atmospheric chemistry, biogeochemistry, ecology, economics, ethics, and policy.  Students will gain an in-depth understanding of Earth’s climate system; how it works and how humans are changing it.  They will learn about potential problems such as sea level rise, trends in storm frequency and intensity, severity of droughts and the occurrence of extreme weather events.  This course will provide knowledge and skills necessary for informed citizenship by encouraging students to apply scientific information to evaluate public discussions and policy decisions related to climate change.

EAPS 420 Global Change Modeling

Typically offered Spring semester by Prof. Matt Huber

Understanding, monitoring, and modeling global environmental change. Each session examines the response of the interrelated earth systems to different geological, ecological, atmospheric, oceanic, or societal impacts. Topics include global warming, major biogeochemical cycles, atmospheric ozone, coevolution of life and climate, asteroid impacts, and ecological disruptions. The laboratory uses object-oriented modeling software and current NASA satellite data. No prior knowledge of computer programming is required.

FNR/EAPS/ARGY/NRES 125 Introduction to Environmental Science and Conservation

Offered in the in Fall and Spring by Profs. Nat Lifton, Barny Dunning, Linda Lee, and Jeff Dukes. Dr. Dunning teaches it online in Summers.

Topics in ecological principles, conservation and natural resource management, human impacts on the environment, toxic waste disposal, climate change, energy, air and water pollution, environmental geology, and geologic hazards.

FNR 488 Global Environmental Issues

Offered in the fall of 2016 only by Prof. Linda Prokopy

Students who take this class will be able to explain the issues, facts and concepts central to a broad range of environmental issues, including climate change.  They will be able to apply scientific evidence to form ethically-grounded opinions on controversial environmental topics.  Students will be able to assess proposed solutions to environmental problems.  This course is highly engaging and uses a lot of active learning techniques.

HSCI 202 Essentials of Environmental, Occupational, and Radiological Health Sciences

Offered in the fall only by Prof. Jennifer Freeman

This course is designed to introduce the essential concepts of Environmental, Occupational, and Radiological Health Science. The principles of these three fields including the environmental impacts on human health and disease; environmental toxicology and epidemiology; contemporary occupational health issues and safety; radioactivity; health physics and radiation safety; the human health effects of exposure to ionizing radiation; medical physics; and multiple medical imaging modalities will be discussed. The basic concepts of Environmental, Occupational, and Radiological Health Sciences will be defined to understand the components of each and the role each field plays in public health and health prevention. The course includes information on how exposure to environment agents and climate change impacts human health to determine if exposures will cause adverse health outcomes and practices to prevent disease to create a healthy environment. The influence of occupational settings on human health is described to identify, evaluate, and control workplace hazards to limit exposure and adverse health outcomes and the application of physical, biological, and engineering principles for the safe use of radiation of industry, medicine, and research.

POL 223 Introduction to Environmental Policy

Offered in the fall and spring by Prof. Tara Grillos

Study of decision making as modern societies attempt to cope with environmental and natural resources problems. Focuses on the American political system, with some attention to the international dimension. Current policies and issues will be examined. 

POL 323 Comparative Environmental Politics and Policy

Typically offered summer, fall, or spring by Prof. Mark Tilton

The course compares environmental politics and policy in different countries, with emphasis on Germany, Japan, the United States and China.  Particular attention is given to climate change and renewable energy.  The course explores why environmental politics and policy varies so much between countries, what factors are driving change, and how international negotiations over climate change affect domestic policies.

PHIL 403 Moral Psychology And Climate Change

Typically offered Fall Spring by Daniel Kelly 

This course investigates the ethical challenges posed by climate change in conjunction with the deep cognitive and motivational factors that shape our individual and collective responses to it. Current research on human moral psychology is examined, drawing on work from a range of disciplines. Ethical theories concerning the unique moral challenges posed by a threat that spans national borders and human generations are considered. Strategies for addressing climate change that try to avoid our common cognitive foibles, and to leverage what we know about human moral capacities for collective action, are examined. Typically offered Fall Spring. 

Graduate

AAE 523 Introduction to Remote Sensing

Offered this spring by Prof. James Garrison

This course will introduce students to key aspects of the design of satellite systems for Earth observation (EO). We will start by identifying the physical quantities that need to be measured in order to understand changes in the Earth's atmosphere, land surfaces and oceans. These parameters will be compared with the various phenomenologies that enable them to be measured remotely from space. Next, we will look at the design of instruments and satellite systems around these principles. Microwave instruments will be emphasized, although there will also be discussion of optical systems. This course is intended equally for students in Engineering or the Sciences.

AAE 590 Earth Observation Mission Design Part II

Offered this spring by Prof. James Garrison and Prof. Dara Entekhabi* (Neal Armstrong Distinguished Visiting Professor) *MIT, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, NAE)

Part I (AAE590, Spring 2020)

This will be a 2-course sequence and students are encouraged to take both parts. Enrollment will be limited to 12 students total with a balanced participation between engineering students (AAE, ECE) and science/applications students (Civil, Agronomy, EAPS).  Part II will be taught in parallel with a section of AAE450 Spacecraft Design.

•Develop simulator for instrument measurement physics
•Define instrument and mission requirements.
•Integrate an End-to-End mission simulator and use it to validate technical requirements.
•Write mission proposal to future NASA Earth Ventures solicitation

Part II (AAE450, Spring 2020)

•Parallel section of AAE450 Spacecraft Design course
•Starting with mission requirements – complete satellite and mission design, including launch vehicle selection, attitude dynamics and control system (ADCS), tracking, telemetry and command, thermal and power analysis.
•Perform systems engineering for project.
•Develop project cost estimate
•Risk assessment and mitigation approach.

ABE 651 Environmental Informatics

Offered in the spring by Prof. Keith Cherkauer

Data volumes in the environmental field are increasing with the advent of sensor networks, greater availability of high-resolution and multispectral remote sensing images, and the growing use of spatially distributed models. Students require new tools and techniques for working with data in a wide variety of formats.

AGEC 525 Environmental Policy Analysis

Offered in the spring by Prof. Juan Sesmero

This course deals with “the main aspects of economic theory concerning how the links between the economy and the environment operate, how markets allocated environmental resources and how this allocation can differ from what society views as optimal” (Hanley, Shogren, and White). This course involves studying the situations in which markets fail to allocate environmental resources efficiently. The relative merits of policies aiming at “correcting” inefficient allocation of resources will be analyzed. To support the evaluation of policy alternatives, the course will emphasize the construction, solution, and interpretation of mathematical models with particular emphasis on calculus-based optimization. As such, it requires knowledge and use of mathematics and economic principles.

AGEC 528 Global Change and the Challenge of Sustainably Feeding a Growing Planet

Offered Spring Semester by Thomas Hertel

This course will explore the trade-offs and synergies arising out of these competing demands on the planets finite resources. We will do so within the context of an economic modeling framework that has proven amenable to integration of insights and knowledge from a variety of different disciplines, including agronomy, hydrology, biology, engineering, climate science, as well as a variety of social sciences. We will begin by exploring the drivers of change behind the evolution of the food system. We will then explore different dimensions of its interactions with the natural environment – focusing specifically on land, water, and natural ecosystem services. We will also explore how infringement on the planetary boundaries, as evidenced through water scarcity or climate change, for example, may alter the functioning of the food system.

AGEC 608 Benefit Cost Analysis

Principles and practice for analysis of the benefits and costs of public investments. Topics include measures of project worth, choice of the discount rate, analysis of projects with multiple objectives and purposes, identifying and quantifying benefits and costs, applications of consumer and producer surplus in project analysis, treatment of risk and uncertainty, and shadow pricing techniques for project evaluation in developing counties. Concurrent Prerequisite: AGEC 60400; a graduate course in microeconomic theory.

AGEC 622 Food System Organization and Policy

Offered in the spring semester by Prof. Joseph Balagtas

This course focuses on application of Industrial Organization concepts to evaluate agricultural and food markets. Topics include competition in agricultural markets, vertical coordination and integration, product differentiation, and innovation and property rights. While not explicitly a course on climate change, the socio-economic effects of climate change play out, in part, through agricultural and food markets. Thus, climate change offers particularly interesting applications of Industrial Organization models.

AGRY 525 Crop Physiology and Ecology

Typically offered Spring semester by Prof. Jeffrey J. Volenec

Crop Physiology and Ecology aims to provide advanced undergraduate and graduate students with a cohesive understanding of the physiology of crop plants as influenced by environment. It emphasizes the follow topics: assimilation of carbon, nitrogen, and mineral nutrients, growth analysis, yield component analysis and partitioning of dry matter, abiotic stress tolerance including temperature and water. These topics are placed in the context of variation in plant genotype, management, and environment including climate change. Case studies are drawn from the primary crop science/agriculture literature to illustrate key concepts, provide context for concept application, and to expand on general details provided in the text.

AGRY 536 Environmental Biophysics

Typically offered Spring semester by Prof. Rich Grant

An introductory course in the physics involved in relating organisms to the atmospheric and soil environment. The energy and mass exchanges of plants, animals, and instruments will be considered. This quantitative course will build the student’s ability to make assumptions and critically evaluate the relative importance of various energy flows in the estimation of the effects of the environment on organisms or communities.

AGRY 598 Field Measurement of Greenhouse Gases

Offered in fall by Profs. Rich Grant and Cliff Johnston

An interdisciplinary field oriented graduate level course that which will present both the fundamental and applied principles of greenhouse gas measurements in agricultural landscapes. The course will include frequent labs at the Agronomy Center for Research and Education. Topics include gas sampling and analytics of closed and open path measurements including open path FTIR, laser based measurement techniques of NH3, N2O and CO2. Laboratories will include the measurement of gases and gas fluxes from both soil and plants: Flux methods will include chamber, eddy correlation, gradient, and backward Lagrangian methods.

ANTH 641 Making Projects Work

Offered this spring by Prof. Zoe Nyssa

Student teams will learn and use a variety of methods (rapid community appraisals, participatory asset mapping, and Delphi method) to facilitate the development of a new neighborhood association in West Lafayette. Along the way, students will learn a number soft skills related to project management, interdisciplinary team-based research, and client relations. The course culminates in a public presentation to municipal partners, neighborhood leaders, and residents. This course continues our formal multi-year partnership with the City of West Lafayette Department of Development to offer project-based anthropology classes at the graduate level that support the city’s Neighborhood Vitality Initiative.

CHM 696 Aerosol Chemistry and Physics

Offered in spring by Prof Alexander Laskin

An aerosol is a suspension of fine solid particles or liquid micro-droplets in air or another gas. Aerosols are inherent part of the atmospheric environment, they can be of both natural and anthropogenic origin. Aerosols impact atmospheric environment and climate through absorption and scattering of sunlight, modification of clouds, multiphase gas-particle chemistry. They are also a public health concern because of the adverse effects on the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. Understanding and mitigation of the aerosol environmental impacts require in depth investigation of physical and chemical properties of atmospheric particles.  This course covers broad topics of aerosol physics and aerosol chemistry. The aerosol physics part describes fundamental properties of particles suspended in air, their motion in force fields, diffusion, evaporation, condensation, coagulation and electrical properties. The aerosol chemistry section is then devoted to understanding complex composition of atmospheric aerosols, their optical and cloud-forming properties, physicochemical mechanisms of their formation and transformations, methods of aerosol collection and analysis.

EAPS 527: PRINCIPLES OF TERRESTRIAL ECOSYSTEM ECOLOGY

Offered in the Spring  by Prof. Qianlai Zhuang

The objective of this course is to build a conceptual model of terrestrial ecosystems and to provide students with the state-of-the-art mechanisms by which terrestrial ecosystems work. Topics include ecosystem concept, Earth’s climate system, geology and soils, terrestrial water and energy balance, terrestrial production processes, terrestrial decomposition, terrestrial plant nutrient use and cycling, biogeochemical pathways, and ecosystem temporal and spatial dynamics.

EAPS 529 Modeling Ecosystems and Biogeochemical Cycles

Offered in the fall by Prof. Qianlai Zhuang

Process-based models are powerful tools for studying ecosystem dynamics and geochemical cycles in Earth System Sciences. In this course, we will explore how various components of ecosystems can be modeled following principles of biology, physics, and chemistry.  We will also examine techniques for using modeling to study: 1) responses of the structure and functioning of ecosystems to changing climate, atmospheric composition, environmental conditions, and human activities; and 2) exchanges of major greenhouse gases (e.g., CO2, CH4, and N2O) between the atmosphere and the biosphere.  During the course, we will go through the whole cycle of system modeling approach including model conceptualization, formulation, parameterization, sensitivity and uncertainty analysis, verification, and application.

EAPS 591 Environmental Data-Model Assimilation

Offered in the Fall by Prof. Qianlai Zhuang

Large amounts of available in situ and satellite data of land and the atmosphere are valuable to advancing mechanistically-based environmental modeling.  The main objective of this course is to introduce how to assimilate the data to models of water, energy, carbon and nutrient in Earth’s environment so as to improve their predictability. The improvement will be made through model parameterization and knowledge learning to have better model representation of various physical, chemical, and biological processes in the environment.  This course will first introduce various observational data of water, energy, carbon, and nutrients.  Second, we will introduce several mechanistically-based environmental modeling systems. Third, with examples, we will introduce several data-model assimilation techniques to improve model parameterization and process representation. The methods include, but are not limited to, a Bayesian approach, a Kalman filtering approach, an adjoint approach, and a machine learning approach.

FNR 535 Forest Regeneration

Offered in the fall, alternate years by Prof. Douglass Jacobs

An overview of the dynamics associated with the regeneration of forestlands in North America.  Topics include genetic considerations, seed collection and handling, forest tree nursery operations, seedling quality, managing for environmental stresses, planting operations, early stand management, and natural regeneration.  The course meets 150 min per week.  We use a lecture-based format but with the goal of at least one-third of the time being dedicated to discussion. Whenever logistically feasible, we will incorporate experiential learning through visits to field tours or laboratories.

HSCI 575 Introduction to Environmental Health

Offered in the spring only by Prof. Jennifer Freeman

This course covers the basic principles of environmental health needed for prevention of disease and promotion of public health.  Topics include basic methodologies for assessing the effect of environmental agents, including epidemiology, toxicology, exposure assessment and risk assessment.   The major biological, chemical and physical agents will be addressed with emphasis on physical characterization and exposure assessment, adverse health effects and their mechanisms, population exposures, dose-response relationships, effects on susceptible populations, applicable standards and regulations, and control of exposures.  The course addresses ethical and global issues involved with environmental health, including conflicts of interest in controlling environmental hazards, environmental justice, and global climate change.

PHIL 535 Studies in Philosophy of Mind 

Offered in the fall and Spring by Profs. Dan Kelly and Taylor Davis

Nearly every aspect of human life is regulated by a dense but invisible web of norms, a set of often unwritten rules that demarcate right from wrong, rational from irrational, appropriate from inappropriate, and acceptable from required or forbidden. The first part of this course will cover recent interdisciplinary work that understands norms as natural phenomena, and investigates how they evolved and what kinds of psychological resources underlie our facility with them. The rest of the course will consider a range of philosophical research that is relevant to and has the potential to be advanced by this work. This will include a special focus on three areas: 1) epistemic norms and their centrality to current debates in social and political epistemology, 2) sustainability norms and the role they play in social change and the transitional ethics of climate change, and 3) the relationship between normative psychology and contemporary discussions of identity, agency, and personhood.

POL 520 / IE 590 QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS FOR CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION

Typically offered in the fall, spring and summer by Prof. David Johnson

This course focuses on interdisciplinary approaches to climate change adaptation at the local, state, and regional level. The course weaves together four main components: 1) fundamental concepts from environmental economics like public goods, externalities, and markets; 2) relevant analytic methods like multi-criterion decision analysis, uncertainty analysis, and risk assessment; 3) common policy mechanisms used to address climate change impacts; and 4) case studies of policy responses to issues like flood risk management, water scarcity, agriculture, and renewable energy systems.

POL 693 / CE597 Dynamics of Social, Ecological, and Technological Systems: Concepts and Tools

Offered in the fall, spring, and summer by Prof. David Yu

In a perfectly linear and predictable world, decision-making for sustainability is a matter of how to discount future and how to juggle between inter/intra-generational and inter-species concerns. The world we actually live in, however, is much more complex than that. More often than not, it is characterized by non-linearity, feedback loops, and inter-connectedness that lead to unexpected system dynamics such as regime shifts, critical thresholds, and “robust-yet-fragile” system performance. Public policy for sustainability in such a context requires an understanding of dynamic system-level concepts and tools and an interdisciplinary approach to study interactions among different subsystems (social, ecological, and technological subsystems) of our modern world. This course will help students understand systems thinking, an interdisciplinary approach of social, ecological, and technological systems, and quantitative skills to model and study the dynamics of such coupled systems. Students will gain precise mathematical understanding of resilience and regime shift through local stability analysis, learn evolutionary game dynamics to study how social norms or institutions change over time, and understand how to conduct ‘what-if’ policy analyses using dynamic models.