Course: Climate and Culture from the Arctic to the Andes

HC 434H/431H

Professor: Mark Carey

Graduation Requirement: This class will fulfill both of the following requirements: a Social Science Colloquium and an IC (International Cultures) 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.

Climate change is not just about temperature and weather; nor is it only about the present and future. Distinct societies have both conceived and been affected by climate change in different ways, from ancient societies in the Andes to present-day groups in Alaska. In fact, in the high-elevation Andes and high-latitude Arctic, climate change impacts are now far-reaching and occurring faster than in most other parts of the world.  

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 climate change and indigenous people opens up a much broader discussion about environmental knowledge across diverse cultures, as well as environmental management, race and class dynamics, gendered dimensions of both science and vulnerability, and the intersection of local, national, and global issues. 

Students enrolled in this course will learn about climate-culture issues in the Western Hemisphere, with a particular focus on the Andes and the Arctic with some historical perspectives to help contextualize the present. There will be an emphasis on recent climate change impacts, adaptation to ongoing changing environmental conditions, and the construction of knowledge about climate change in these regions. The topical issues will focus on glacier and sea ice change, natural hazards, water shortages, and other environmental changes playing out in these regions and experienced by diverse populations.

This is a unique course offering students an extraordinary opportunity because we will have two distinguished keynote speakers and visiting tribal college students visit our class and offer public activities on campus, thereby augmenting the typical classroom experience significantly and offering amazing opportunities for learning from these indigenous women coming from Arizona.

 Additionally, the course will culminate with a student conference on "Climate Change, Public Lands, and Environmental Justice," where students will have the opportunity to share their work-in-progress in a more professional setting outside the classroom. Students in two other courses will collaborate with our class so that about 50 UO students will participate in the conference.  

All students in this course will write a major research paper on a topic of their choice that coincides with general course themes. Students will gain valuable experience presenting this work in oral or poster presentations at the conference. The close intersection of this HC 431H course and the conference serves to promote student research, showcase the work of Clark Honors College students, stimulate interactions across the social and natural sciences, provide professional experience for students, and generate dialogue about critical issues of indigenous peoples, climate change, and the cultural contexts of environmental knowledge.