Bunting-Cobb House Course
11:375:111   1.5 credits
Readings in Environmental Science

Mondays 7:15 - 8:35 pm

Spring 2011

Instructors:  Songyan Du (sdu@envsci.rutgers.edu)  and Lisa Rodenburg  (rodenburg@envsci.rutgers.edu)

This course is reserved for residents of the Bunting-Cobb dorm

Once you have registered for the course, you should have access to the sakai site.  If you have registered but don't have access, please email one of the instructors.


This course is designed to provide an introduction to the major environmental issues of the day, with focus on their impacts on women.  We begin with an overview of the environmental movement in the United States.  Then we discuss chemical pollution through the lens of Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”.  We examine how the course of human society is constrained by the environment.  We examine climate change and its likely effects on women throughout the world.  We close by discussing sustainability and the future of the world’s environment. 

 Grades will be based on journal assignments (due weekly), 5 reflection papers (due approximately every other week), and class participation in discussions.  Attendance is manditory.


1.  A Fierce Green Fire: The American Environmental Movement by Philip Shabecoff

2.  Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

3.  The Physical Science Behind Climate Change by Collins et al.

3.  Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution--and How It Can Renew America  by Thomas Friedman

4.  Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Ruin Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them by Steven Milloy

TENTATIVE Course Schedule:
Week Topic
24-Jan Introduction – rules and requirement of the course, citing references and plagiarism
31-Jan Fierce Green Fire discussion
7-Feb POPs lecture - Dr. Rodenburg
14-Feb view Guns, Germs, and Steel
21-Feb Silent Spring discussion
28-Feb view GG&S
7-Mar discuss GG&S
14-Mar RU spring break
21-Mar global warming lecture - Sagona and Hodas
28-Mar cap and trade lecture - Julia Friedman
4-Apr global warming discussion
11-Apr sustainability lecture - Uta Krogmann
18-Apr Hot, Flat, and Crowded discussion
25-Apr Green Hell discussion
2-May current events discussion

Reflection papers:
Reflection paper on A Fierce Green Fire due Feb 7.
Reflection paper on Silent Spring due Feb 28
Reflection paper on Climate change due March 21
Reflection paper on Hot, Flat and Crowded due April 25
Reflection paper on the course as a whole due May 9

 Journal questions

Week 2:  Are you an environmentalist?  Why or why not?  What environmental issues have directly affected your life?

Week 3:  Do you sympathize with Rachel Carson?  How do you expect your life will be similar to or different from hers?

Week 4:  Is it important to write about environmental issues in beautiful language, or does it cloud scientific issues with sentimentality?

Week 5:   How is your lifetime exposure to POPs different from that of a man?

Week 6:   When societies collapse, are women affected differently than men?

Week 7:   Women in developing countries have less social freedoms than women in industrialized nations.  Why?

Week 8:  Do you think climate change is real?

Week 9:  Do you think climate change will impact you differently from men of your same age?

Week 10:  Who are the winners under a cap and trade system for carbon?  Who are the losers?  Are women more likely to be winners than men?

Week 11:  Do you think that you will consider environmental issues when you decide how many children to have?  What factors are most important in this decision?

Week 12:  How big is your annual carbon footprint relative to other people your age?  Calculate yours at http://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx.  Use your parents’ home to calculate the “house” portion.

Week 13:  What are some of the underlying (but unstated) assumptions made by Steven Milloy in “Green Hell”?  Are they correct?

Week 14:  Comment on a recent (within the last week) news story on the environment.  How has your perspective on this story changed due to the things you have learned in this class?