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There are few aspects of modernity more striking and significant than the changes that people have made to the physical and biotic environment. These are so significant that many natural and social scientists refer to a new geological age, the Anthropocene, a period in which the primary drivers of environmental change are human actions rather than just natural processes. This recognition requires conceptualising and understanding how social and physical processes interact in a complex world. Citizens need to be informed about environmental science, planetary boundaries and safe operating spaces for humanity while at the same time understanding the economic and political, social and cultural forces shaping our environment. The requirement for interdisciplinary understanding requires both novelty and urgency in meaningful planetary stewardship. This course will give students a critical introduction to some of the profound responsibilities of modern citizenship in the Anthropocene.
Module and Elective Structure:
The GY2EL elective stream is run over two modules in semester 1 and semester 2. In semester 1 we will establish the problem of global environmental change by exploring earth system components and trends and the role that physical geography plays in understanding and assessing global environmental change. Students will be introduced to key concepts within human geography for understanding nature/society interactions and how these have changed over time. Students will also learn about the contested meanings, definitions and possible start dates of the Anthropocene and why this is important for thinking about our shared future. The final part of the module will bring physical and human geography perspectives together with illustrative case studies to emphasise the importance of combining theories, concepts and knowledge from both in meeting the challenges presented by contemporary and planetary scale change. In the second semester, module two will explore in more detail contemporary societal responses to the Anthropocene by examining adaptive responses and conflicting visions of how we can live in a sustainable, just and equitable Anthropocene.
Either or both of these modules (GY260, GY261) are available to all Second Year Geography students, but they are designed as a package to be taken together.