Frederica R Helmiere
Intensive and advanced reading and discussion of selected works in interdisciplinary environmental studies. Topics vary. Credit/no-credit only.
This course will examine garbage: it's classification, its disposal, its role in cultures and civilizations in the past, its regulation, its movement across boundaries and border, and its impact on bodies and ecosystems, often far from our sight. On average, the residents of the richest countries throw away 1,763 pounds of trash each year, and much of that ends up in landfills in the Global South. This practice, known as trans-boundary dumping, includes a massive legal transfer of hazardous waste products from North to South that harms public health, water, soil, and air quality. But many individuals and communities are actively engaged in transnational movements of resistance, acting against this injustice or finding creative ways to reuse trash and appropriate trash for political messaging.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Classes will consist of discussions, short lectures, films, activities, field trips and small group work.
Class assignments and grading
Assignments will be structured around accessing creative ways for students to wrap their heads around the quantity and composition of household trash in America, its movement around the globe, and innovative responses to this problem. Students may have the option to visit a transfer facility in Seattle, to record every item that thrown away for one week, to carry their trash around with them for a week, to interview elders about trash disposal a generation or two ago, and perhaps practice some trash art.