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Committee on Environment, Geography and Urbanization

Department Website: https://cegu.uchicago.edu/

Based in the Division of Social Sciences at the University of Chicago, the Committee on Environment, Geography and Urbanization (CEGU) is an interdisciplinary platform for critical thinking, advanced research, and innovative pedagogy on the societal and spatial dimensions of climate change, biodiversity loss, and other kinds of environmental transformation.

Key fields of research and pedagogy include urban environmental studies and sustainable urbanism; energy histories and geographies; environmental humanities; spatial and environmental media; environmental policy, design and practice; and community engagement.

Committee on Environment, Geography and Urbanization Courses

CEGU 30061. Ancient Landscapes I. 100 Units.

This is a two-course sequence that introduces students to theory and method in landscape studies and the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to analyze archaeological, anthropological, historical, and environmental data. Course one covers the theoretical and methodological background necessary to understand spatial approaches to landscape and the fundamentals of using ESRI's ArcGIS software, and further guides students in developing a research proposal. Course two covers more advanced GIS-based analysis (using vector, raster, and satellite remote sensing data) and guides students in carrying out their own spatial research project. In both courses, techniques are introduced through the discussion of case studies (focused on the archaeology of the Middle East) and through demonstration of software skills. During supervised laboratory times, the various techniques and analyses covered will be applied to sample archaeological data and also to data from a region/topic chosen by the student.

Instructor(s): Mehrnoush Soroush     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): ANTH 26710, GISC 20061, NEAA 30061, CEGU 20061, NEAA 20061, GISC 30061, ANTH 36710

CEGU 30062. Ancient Landscapes II. 100 Units.

This is a two-course sequence that introduces students to theory and method in landscape studies and the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to analyze archaeological, anthropological, historical, and environmental data. Course one covers the theoretical and methodological background necessary to understand spatial approaches to landscape and the fundamentals of using ESRI's ArcGIS software, and further guides students in developing a research proposal. Course two covers more advanced GIS-based analysis (using vector, raster, and satellite remote sensing data) and guides students in carrying out their own spatial research project. In both courses, techniques are introduced through the discussion of case studies (focused on the archaeology of the Middle East) and through demonstration of software skills. During supervised laboratory times, the various techniques and analyses covered will be applied to sample archaeological data and also to data from a region/topic chosen by the student.

Instructor(s): Mehrnoush Soroush     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): NEAA 20061
Equivalent Course(s): GISC 30062, CEGU 20062, NEAA 20062, GISC 20062, ANTH 26711, NEAA 30062, ANTH 36711

CEGU 30700. Global Health, Environment, and Indigenous Futures. 100 Units.

The global coronavirus pandemic has made evident the significance of ecological (im)balances for the well-being of societies. The relationship between structural inequalities, changing environments and health, especially for historically and socio-economically marginalized communities, is now well established. At the same time, a growing body of literature links the material conditions of marginalized communities-for instance, spaces of dwelling and conditions of labor-to health status, globally. Based on a set of interdisciplinary literature arranged through anthropological theories, this course will critically engage with notions of health and well-being for indigenous communities, tracing injustices that stem histories of racial, caste- and ethnicity-based, and environmental exclusions. The readings are organized around one central question: What does it mean to be indigenous in a changing planet where social, political, and economic systems are marked by enduring legacies of systemic violence? This graduate and undergraduate level course will introduce contexts within which structural exclusions lead to ill-health and loss of well-being among indigenous communities across the globe. The aim is to develop critical thinking on the political economy and political ecologies of indigenous health as imbricated with issues of social, economic, and environmental justice.

Instructor(s): Sanghamitra Das
Equivalent Course(s): SALC 26501, ANTH 30700, SALC 32704, CEGU 20700, ANTH 20700, CHDV 20700, CHDV 30750, RDIN 20700, RDIN 30700

CEGU 31406. Britain 1760-1880: The Origins of Fossil Capitalism. 100 Units.

Britain rose to global dominance after 1760 by pioneering the first fossil-fuel economy. This course explores the profound impact of coal and steam on every aspect of British society, from politics and religion to industrial capitalism and the pursuit of empire. Such historical investigation also serves a second purpose by helping us see our own fossil-fuel economy with fresh eyes through direct comparison with Victorian energy use. How much does the modern world owe to the fossil capitalism of the Victorians? Assignments include short essays that introduces students to primary sources (texts, artifacts, and images) and a longer paper that examines in greater depth a specific aspect of the age of steam.

Instructor(s): F. Albritton Jonsson     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): HIPS 21406, HIST 31406, CEGU 21406, HIST 21406, CHSS 31406

CEGU 31501. Genealogies of Environmental Organizing and Activism. 100 Units.

This course explores how organizations-civic, private, governmental-working in the field of environmental advocacy construct, deploy and are shaped by distinct discourses governing relationships between nature and society. The environment is a field of social action in which organizations attempt to effect change in large domains like resource conservation, access, stewardship, and a basic right to environmental quality in everyday life. The work of effecting change in these complex domains can assume a variety of forms including public policy (through the agencies of the state), private enterprise (through the agency of the market), 'third sector' advocacy (through the agency of nonprofit organizations) and social activism (through the agency of social movements and community organizations). State, market, civil society and social movement organizations are where ideas are transmitted from theory to practice and back again in a recursive, dialectical process. These contrasting forms of organization have different histories, wellsprings and degrees of social power. Moreover, they bring different epistemologies to their claims about being legitimate custodians of nature-that is to say they can be understood genealogically. As such, organizations working to effect environment change are at once animated by and constitutive of distinct discourses governing the relationships between nature and society. The course explores how those distinct discourses are associated with a suite of different organizational realms of social action; the goal is trying to connect the dots between discursive formations and organizational forms.

Instructor(s): Mary Beth Pudup     Terms Offered: Autumn
Note(s): This course counts towards the ENST 4th year Capstone requirement.
Equivalent Course(s): MAPS 31101, CEGU 21501, GLST 21501, ENST 21501, SSAD 41501, HMRT 21501, SSAD 21501

CEGU 32146. Ecology & Governance in Israel and the Middle East. 100 Units.

Ecological governance has emerged as an aspirational concept in recent years in political science, philosophy, and anthropology in response to concerns over the increasing likelihood of an unprecedented global ecological crisis as a result of human driven climate change. This course will trace the conceptual genealogy of ecological governance in Western and Eastern political theory and environmental history as it explores the political ecologies of Israel and the Middle East. In so doing, the course embarks from the assertion that environmental justice and the struggle for justice overall are inseparable challenges. Of central concern will be to understand how Israel's politics, culture, and history technological development together with its particular environmental conditions provide conceptual and methodological interventions into current and historical articulations of ecological governance. Note: Enrollment in this class is by consent only. Please request via the enrollment site.

Instructor(s): Michael Fisch
Equivalent Course(s): ANTH 32146

CEGU 32211. Riding about the South Side. 100 Units.

This course is based on bicycling through the South Side neighborhoods surrounding the University of Chicago. There will be some readings, but the primary input will be from riding-from seeing things at street level and speaking with people who are committed to living in places that often have been abandoned by others. We can read and theorize about the community surrounding us, but the premise in this class is that our work should begin with experience in that world, with direct contact and in conversation. My approach in this class is less to teach than to lead you to where things are waiting to be learned and to people who can teach you about their world better than I. Some of the themes we will cover include land rights and exploitation, architecture, town planning, placemaking, urban farming and ecology, sustainability, grass roots organization, labor rights and exploitation, immigration, social work, and street art. Each ride is organized around a set of key concerns and includes a conversation with a local insider who can help us better understand them.

Equivalent Course(s): CHST 22211, ARCH 22211, CEGU 22211, ENST 22211, KNOW 22211

CEGU 32301. Digital Geographies of Climate Justice. 100 Units.

Struggles for climate and environmental justice are increasingly mediated by digital technologies and geospatial data, especially in the Global South. In Amazonia, for example, the plight of indigenous groups bearing the brunt of ecological dispossession and political violence by deforestation is frequently represented through remotely-sensed data showing time-series of canopy loss; in turn, these data are often prompted, groundtruthed, and mobilized by indigenous communities and affiliated activists in legal and political campaigns. In parallel, across the world ocean, countries across the Global South- from Papua New Guinea and Ecuador to Ghana- are partnering with watch-dog organizations using satellite imagery and GPS data to track illegal fishing and human rights abuses at sea, acting as an auxilliary ecological police force to identify and provide data to prosecute offending vessels. The proliferation of these digital geographic technologies and techniques pose a number of complex questions. Drawing on contemporary cases, experimental projects in "forensic" approaches to activism, and recent work in critical geography, aesthetics, STS, and political theory, this seminar will attempt to map out these digital geographies of climate justice as they emerge. The course will also involve introduction to entry-level remote sensing + GIS workflows (no prior experience required) in a pair of intensive workshops led by guest lecturers/practitioners.

Instructor(s): Alexander Arroyo     Terms Offered: Spring
Note(s): Undergraduate/Graduate Course - only open to 3rd and 4th year undergraduate students. This course counts toward the 4th year ENST capstone requirement.
Equivalent Course(s): ENST 22301, GLST 29301, MAPH 32301, CEGU 22301

CEGU 34660. Urban Geography. 100 Units.

This course examines the spatial organization and current restructuring of modern cities in light of the economic, social, cultural, and political forces that shape them. It explores the systematic interactions between social process and physical system. We cover basic concepts of urbanism and urbanization, systems of cities urban growth, migration, centralization and decentralization, land-use dynamics, physical geography, urban morphology, and planning. Field trip in Chicago region required. This course is part of the College Course Cluster, Urban Design.

Instructor(s): M. Conzen     Terms Offered: Winter
Note(s): This course counts towards the ENST 4th year Capstone requirement. This course offered in even years.
Equivalent Course(s): ARCH 24660, ENST 24660, CEGU 24660

CEGU 36100. Roots of the Modern American City. 100 Units.

This course traces the economic, social, and physical development of the city in North America from pre-European times to the mid-twentieth century. We emphasize evolving regional urban systems, the changing spatial organization of people and land use in urban areas, and the developing distinctiveness of American urban landscapes. All-day Illinois field trip required. This course is part of the College Course Cluster, Urban Design.

Instructor(s): M. Conzen     Terms Offered: Autumn. Offered 2021-22
Note(s): This course counts towards the ENST 4th year Capstone requirement. This course offered in odd years.
Equivalent Course(s): HIST 38900, CHST 26100, ENST 26100, CEGU 26100, HIST 28900, ARCH 26100

CEGU 40244. Climate change, history and Social Theory. 100 Units.

This course considers some of the major approaches to climate change and society that have been elaborated by contemporary social and environmental theorists. Key topics include the legacies of environmental thought in classical social theory; the histories and geographies of environmental crises under capitalism; the conceptualization of "nature" in relation to societal dynamics; the role of capitalism and fossil capital in the production of "metabolic rifts"; questions of periodization and associated debates on the "Anthropocene," the "Capitalocene" and the "Plantationocene"; the interplay between urbanization and climate emergencies; the (geo)politics of decarbonization; insurgent struggles for climate justice; and possible post-carbon futures.

Equivalent Course(s): CHSS 43204, SOCI 40244, HIST 43204, CCCT 40244, PLSC 40244

CEGU 44000. Inhabiting in the Renaissance. 100 Units.

In a seventeenth-century manuscript map of Brazilian coast, the cartographer wrote, in the middle of an empty space, "pays inhabitué que par des sauvages," emphasizing-among other things-the phonetic and semiotic confusion between inhabiting, habituating or settling, and the uninhabitable as a concept. This seminar will look at the French Renaissance through the lens of inhabiting, in a wide sense of the term, whether it is the house, a plot of land, your local zone or the earth. As a time that is confronted with narratives of other, distant ways of making a home, the French Renaissance deserves to be reframed as a critical moment in defining how the humans of Humanism approached and apprehended their environment and their way of life, as well as their dependence on resources and on other beings. Students will read canonical texts such as Montaigne's "Essais," Rabelais's "Gargantua" and "Pantagruel," Jean de Léry's "Histoire d'un voyage faict en la terre du Brésil," Marguerite de Navarre's "Heptaméron," as well as the rustic manuals of Charles Estienne and Jean Liebault and of Olivier de Serres. Aside from recent scholarship on early modern French literature and ecocriticism, we will turn to an interdisciplinary corpus of thinkers of ecology (from theory to psychology and nonfiction) to give new depth to the primary sources, as well as dive into the vibrant and recent French ecological thought of Bruno Latour, Emanuele Coccia, Isabelle Stengers, and Emilie Hache.

Instructor(s): Pauline Goul     Terms Offered: Spring
Note(s): Taught in English. Materials available in English and French.
Equivalent Course(s): FREN 44000

CEGU 50103. The Land is Ours: Colonialism, Belonging, and Sovereignty in Africa. 100 Units.

This course centers land in thinking about the development of dominant political, economic, social, and cultural systems in Africa during and after colonialism. It examines how different actors have articulated their relationships to specific areas of land and established systems and institutions to structure these relationships. Looking at the colonial period, we will focus on competition between indigenous and colonial land tenure systems and the transformative effects of colonial land tenure systems on how people in Africa engaged in political, economic, and social life. Under independence, we will examine how African states used land as part of decolonization processes and the interplay between colonial and indigenous land tenure systems in how the citizens of independent African states have framed and exercised their claims to land. Texts for the course will include historical and other scholarly monographs, primary documents, photographs, and film.

Equivalent Course(s): HIST 50103

CEGU 51601. Material Histories of the Modern World, c. 1700 to the present. 100 Units.

This seminar explores the changing relationship between people and things in modern and contemporary history and introduces students to major historical interpretations, methods and sources. In the seminar, we will read classic as well as recent texts. Case studies will include the debate about the "industrious" and "consumer revolutions"; commodity biographies (sugar, tea, cotton); histories of comfort; town planning and mobility in 20th century Britain and Japan; food and diet in the British empire; waste in Republican Beijing; the material culture of the home in the Eastern Bloc; energy transitions and everyday life.

Instructor(s): F. Albritton Jonsson, F. Trentmann     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): HIST 51601, CHSS 51601

CEGU 51802. Climate Ethics. 100 Units.

Anthropogenic climate change is the largest challenge facing human civilization. Its physical and temporal scale and unprecedented complexity at minimum require extensions of existing ethical systems, if not new ethical tools. This course will begin by examining natural and social-scientific studies of climate change and its current and predicted effects (e.g. the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Stern Review). Most of the course will examine how religious and philosophical ethical systems respond to the vast temporal and spatial scales of climate change and its inherent uncertainties. For instance, common principles of environmental ethics such as justice and responsibility are often reimagined in climate ethics. We will also explore the degree to which the assumptions of many modern Western ethical systems including linear causality, an emphasis on individuals, and purely rational decision-making foster or inhibit climate ethics. In the course, we will take a comparative approach to environmental ethics and may examine perspectives from secular Western philosophy, Christianity (Catholic and Protestant), Buddhist, and Islamic thought.

Instructor(s): Sarah Fredericks     Terms Offered: Spring
Note(s): This course meets the CS Committee distribution requirement for Divinity students. Undergraduates must petition to enroll.
Equivalent Course(s): CHSS 51802, KNOW 51802, RETH 51802

CEGU 56602. Materials and Materiality. 100 Units.

Things have gathered more interest among scholars in both history and beyond. Considering this new focus on the materials and the materiality of things, some describe this trend as a "material turn" from the previous focus on cultural history and the analysis of discourses. How do historians in different areas write about things? What aspects of materiality do they focus on? In this course, we will explore the nascent "material turn" by diving into a few selected and representative works that look into the "thingness" behind materials. Instead of seeing this focus on materiality as separate from earlier approaches, this course hopes to incite discussions on how different scholarship's focus on materiality contribute to, engage with, and complicate other scholarship. The assignment for this course includes a combined book review of about 1000-2000 words that brings three recent books on electricity into a dialogue with each other. For the final project, students will write a research paper of about 20-25 pages long on a specific thing or a discussion of the materiality of their choice after consultation with the instructor.

Instructor(s): Y. Dong     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): HIST 56602, EALC 56602, CHSS 56602

CEGU 57300. Colloquium: Environmental History. 100 Units.

This graduate colloquium provides an advanced introduction to the vibrant field of environmental history. We will trace the evolution of this rich historiography, from first-generation classics-often focused on the American West-through to the geographical and thematic diversification of recent years. The course will give a flavor of this diversity, touching too upon influential works in emerging subfields like animal history, climate history, enviro-tech, and evolutionary history. Throughout, we will study how historians have addressed new analytical and aesthetic challenges: negotiating the insights of the natural sciences, incorporating nonhuman agency, and writing history at the vast scales of deep time and the planetary. The course is ideal for PhD students preparing a general examination field and/or designing a research paper, but is open to MA students as well.

Equivalent Course(s): HIST 57300, CHSS 37400

CEGU 69400. Climate Change and Human Mobility. 100 Units.

A 2021 UN report estimated that 21.5 million people have been forced to move, each year, for over a decade, due to climate change. The report states: "weather-related crises have triggered more than twice as much displacement as conflict and violence in the last decade" (UNHCR, 2021). In spite of mounting evidence that climate change is to blame for these catastrophic weather-related events and associated increases in migration, the UNHCR eligibility criteria for refugee status doesn't include climate change. Due to political challenges involved in considering such a definition change, the UN convened member states to establish a global compact for migration that takes the effects of climate change into consideration. The Global Compact suggests rights and obligations of climate change migrants, and standards to guide sovereign states in protecting these rights. Given the growth in climate change related migration over the last decade, and the complicated nature of implementation with such a broad international instrument such as the Global Compact, there is much room for development within the climate change and human mobility sector. This course will: examine the issue of climate change and its relationship to human mobility using human rights, political ecology, and social policy perspectives; consider how these different perspectives for understanding the problem suggest different types of policy solutions; and consider the impact of these solutions for those affected.

Terms Offered: TBD
Equivalent Course(s): HMRT 29400, CHST 29400, SSAD 69400, SSAD 29400, HMRT 39401, ENST 29400, CEGU 29400