SOS 394 / HST 394
The History of the Future
Visions and predictions of the future are artifacts of particular times and places: they often tell us more about the hopes, values, anxieties, and prejudices of their creators than they do about how the future will actually turn out. In this course, we will examine a diverse set of visions of the future – ranging from policy reports to science fiction novels to Hollywood films – crafted by people from different times, places, and walks of life. We will examine the values, assumptions, and ideologies underlying these imagined futures, apply critical perspectives to how societies—both past and present—envision the future, and write imaginative visions of our own. Particular attention will be paid to issues of sustainability and the environment, which pervade both historical and contemporary thinking about our collective prospects for the future.
The course is co-taught by Paul Hirt, professor in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies and a Senior Sustainability Scholar at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, and Joey Eschrich, Editor and Program Manager at the Center for Science and the Imagination.
Sustainability Decision Lab
This graduate seminar taught by Manjana Milkoreit, Postdoctoral Research Scholar with the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives integrates concepts and ideas from three different fields of scholarship – sustainability, complex systems and cognition – to explore the way individuals and groups think, feel, make decisions and behave in various contexts that are relevant for sustainability. While we touch upon various policy areas, climate change will be a central and recurring theme and case study. Students will learn about basic theories of cognition and complex systems that will allow them to understand the basic components and structure of belief systems. We will explore the importance of different kinds of belief system for decision-making at different levels of sustainability governance, from the individual to the global. Students will reflect on their own cognitive patterns and choices, and develop analytical skills that will enable them to identify and understand the belief systems of other people or groups. The course mixes lectures and class discussions with individual exercises and group decision-making games that offer experiential learning opportunities. Topics include rationality and emotion, coherence and cognitive dissonance, the temporality of choice, and dealing with issue complexity. View the syllabus.
Environmental Literary Criticism: From Environmental Justice to Cli-Fi
This is a core course for the Environmental Humanities Certificate Fulfills the L and/or HU General Education requirements
In 1993, when a small group of literary critics gathered to form an organization focused on environmental issues, no one could have predicted that 20 years later, environmental literary criticism would be the catalyst for the formation of the environmental humanities, a field that is now at the center of discussions on the world stage in places that include the UN Environmental Programme and its research initiative, Future Earth. In this course, we will study the trajectory of development of the field from environmental justice ecocriticism, to postcolonial ecological criticism, to the newly emerging emphasis in the environmental humanities on “cli-fi” or climate fiction. In September, we will begin the course by attending a lecture by famed cli-fi author Paolo Bacigalupi. We will also cover new opportunities that are opening up for environmental humanists both inside and outside academia, in NGOs, business, sustainability, technology, engineering, and science. For more information about the course, and a reading list, please contact Professor Adamson at Joni.Adamson@asu.edu.
Arizona 2050: Sustainability and the Past, Present, and Possible Future of Arizona
As a rapidly growing state in one of the world’s hottest and driest regions, Arizona faces incredible sustainability challenges over the coming decades. This course will challenge students to use storytelling to create compelling visions for the future of Arizona grounded in actual research in areas ranging from science and technology to public policy, culture, education, and economics. The course is co-taught by Paul Hirt, professor in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies and a Senior Sustainability Scholar at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, and Joey Eschrich, Editor and Program Manager at the Center for Science and the Imagination.