Three Sustainability Courses Available at Pratt for Spring 2013

How can we develop products, buildings, and systems to make modern society sustainable? What does it mean to be sustainable? Learn more in these three courses offered Spring 2013.

Here at the Pratt Institute, I am offering three sustainability seminars for Spring 2013.  Each of these courses may count as a Social Science or Philosophy elective, and there are no prerequisites for any of them.

One of the most important environmental issues is the unsustainable use of fossil fuels.  It is worth assessing how we came to do so, and the range of options (including design and behavioral changes) we have to alter our present use of energy.  SS 490-03 Power, Pollution, and Profit examines the types of energy (fossil fuels, renewables, nuclear) used in modern society.  Here’s a quick summary:

SS 490-03 Power, Pollution, and Profit
Modern society relies on burning fossil fuel for energy, with serious economic, public health, and environmental consequences. Learn the history of how we came to rely on unsustainable energy sources and ways in which our future use of energy may be made mode sustainable.

Spring 2013: Mondays, 9:30am-12:20pm.  3 credit hours

The reading list is still coming together (and may evolve as New York determines what — if any — fracking will be done upstate), but expect historical, contemporary, and forecasting readings from sources ranging from historian Martin Melosi to Rocky Mountain Institute founder Amory Lovins.

The second new course I am offering assesses how we design goods, and what implications our designs have for the environment as they age.  If you have ever wondered how recycling works, or want to learn ways of minimizing waste in the design of everything from clothes to buildings, consider registering in SS 490-27 Production, Consumption, and Waste.  The seminar examines the ways production and consumption patterns from the start of the Industrial Revolution to the present day have shaped the waste stream, the ways we have defined and handled waste, the consequences of that waste, and ways in which we might reduce the impact of our waste.  Here’s a quick summary:

SS 490-27 Production, Consumption, and Waste
What happens to the trash we toss in dumpsters?  How do we determine what waste is, and why do we make so much of it?  Learn about the environmental and social consequences of mass production and disposal (past and present), and ways to make the waste stream safer.

Spring 2013: Tuesdays, 9:30am-12:20pm.  3 credit hours.

The range of topics will in many ways resemble the scope of the Encyclopedia of Consumption and Waste: The Social Science of Garbage, as I kept in mind that reference work’s utility in the classroom when I was editing it.  (Students will not have to buy that book, let alone lug it around!)

In addition to those two new seminars, I am leading a team of Pratt Institute faculty teaching the second offering of SUST 201P The Sustainable Core.  This course is designed as our introduction to sustainability and is an excellent way to get familiar with the many ways sustainability is practiced at Pratt.

SUST 201P The Sustainable Core
This course provides an overview of sustainability by exploring definitions, controversies, trends, and case-studies in various systems and locales (urban/rural, local/national/global). Investigation of critical elements of sustainability, including environmental history and urban ecology, sustainable development and landscape transformations, recycling/waste management, ecosystem restoration, and environmental justice.

Spring 2013: Wednesdays, 9:30am-12:20pm.  3 credit hours.

Each of these courses may count as a Social Science or Philosophy elective, and there are no prerequisites for any of them. If you are a Pratt student and have any questions for me about these courses, please feel free to contact me at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s