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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Robert Joseph Turner
BIS 397
Bothell Campus

Topics in Environmental Studies

Examines topics in Environmental Studies. Includes social, political, historical, cultural, artistic, economic, or scientific explorations of environmental issues.

Class description

The subtitle of this course is Principles and Controversies of Sustainability. Accordingly, we will focus on just what is meant by this loaded term and why it is seemingly so difficult to achieve. What philosophies underlie our actions and the literature relevant to sustainability? How compatible are our actions, policies and proposals with the ideals of sustainability? Just what makes sustainability so very contentious? We will approach this minefield via many diverse articles from a wide variety of sources and explore it together via a series of in-class debates.

The course fulfills an Individual and Society requirement and serves as a focus course for the Sustainability and Society track of the BA Environmental Studies degree.

Student learning goals

Demonstrate advancement in identification of the conflicting values and ideologies that underly controversies in sustainability issues and proposals.

Articulate a personal philosophy on sustainability and discuss the challenges and opportunities associated with pursing it.

Discuss how pursuing different sustainable development ideals can affect our future.

Demonstrate advancement in ability to compare, synthesize, and assess multiple perspectives, as well as present, support, and evaluate positions and conclusions (their own and those of others) in writing and orally.

Demonstrate advancement in ethical reasoning and facilitation of intellectual conversations.

Demonstrate advanced facility in working with partners in an equitable research collaboration, anticipating and resolving conflict in group situations, and taking advantage of diverse skills and perspectives in group work.

General method of instruction

With regard to pedagogical approach, Principles and Controversies of Sustainability is a seminar-style course where student contribution in the classroom is a primary goal and lectures are a minor component. This course does not emphasize the memorization of facts and disciplinary concepts. Instead, the course focuses on analyzing and synthesizing ideas and reflecting on issues as they might impact you or others. Students are encouraged to be active learners via thoughtful reading, critical writing, class discussion, a collaborative group project, and a series of debates.

Recommended preparation

There are no prerequisites aside from a curious mind and an eagerness to actively participate in animated, sometimes contentious discussions and debates.

Class assignments and grading

Required readings Short analytical essays Participation in one debate Reflections on debate experience and course learning gains


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Robert Joseph Turner
Date: 10/16/2012