Climate and Cultures in the Americas

HC 434H/431H

Professor: Mark Carey

Graduation Requirement:  This class will fulfill both the following requirements: a Social Science Colloquium and an IC Multicultural class.  If the student has already taken a Social Science Colloquium, this class will fulfill both of the following requirements: an Elective Colloquium and an IC Multicultural class.

Over time, distinct societies have both conceived and been affected by climate change in different ways, from ancient societies like the Maya to present-day groups from Alaska to Chile. Indigenous people in particular are disproportionately affected by climate change and natural disasters, yet they are often marginalized from policy and academic discussions. Moreover, discussion of indigenous people and climate change opens up a much broader discussion about environmental knowledge across diverse cultures, as well as environmental management, race and class dynamics, and the intersection of local, national, and global issues. Students enrolled in this course will learn about climate-culture issues throughout the Western Hemisphere and from an historical perspective up to the present. Students will write a major research paper on a topic of their choice, so long as it coincides with general course themes. They will also gain valuable experience presenting their work in oral or poster presentations in a corresponding student conference on campus that Professor Carey is organizing, which will bring indigenous leaders and other undergraduates from tribal colleges doing climate-related research to this course and the campus. This is unique opportunity thanks to several grants that are funding the conference and course. The conference is called "Indigenous People, Climate Change, and Environmental Knowledge" on May 24, 2012 (see for more information). The close intersection of this HC 431H course and the conference serves to promote student research, showcase the work of Clark Honors College students, provide professional experience for students, and generate dialogue about critical issue of indigenous peoples, climate change, and the cultural contexts of environmental knowledge.