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Sustainability & Technology

Building a Better Future World: Sustainability & Technology

Overpopulation, climate change, and water shortages are just a few of the global challenges that confront us. Is a sustainable future possible or is it a figment of our imagination? In Building a Better Future World: Sustainability & Technology, students will investigate how urban planning and our historic and present relationship with technology can offer ideas for building a better future world. Students will explore strategies and solutions, and wrestle with the question, can we really make a difference?

UBPL 200 - Sustainability & Society
Stacey Swearingen White, Urban Planning

Fulfills Goal 5 Outcome 1 (AE51), Goal 1 Outcome 1 (GE11), Goal 3 Social Sciences (GE3S), 3 credit hours

No matter their profession or societal role, citizens of the 21st century will be required to grapple with the concept of sustainability and its implications for global society. In its most basic iteration, sustainability involves ensuring that the activities and practices of today will not impose restrictions or hardships on future generations. Though environmental issues are key sustainability concerns, a truly sustainable future must also address social equity and economic feasibility. As such, sustainability is a controversial topic, and one that elicits a range of perspectives on its validity and needed response.

This course will introduce the concept of sustainability, examining its early iterations, recent applications, and possible future transformations. Critical analysis of sustainability as a concept and societal goal will be a course cornerstone. We will examine two contemporary social issues that are relevant to students at the University of Kansas: food and transportation systems. Social Science perspectives will be emphasized, but, because sustainability necessitates an interdisciplinary perspective, the course will consider the contributions of a wide range of disciplines to these issues.

Stacey Swearingen White was born in Minnesota, and spent many years circling round her native Midwest before realizing this was exactly the region in which she wished to put down roots. She has been at KU since 1988, and thoroughly enjoys the opportunities she has here to explore her passion for sustainability through all facets of her work. In her spare time she enjoys watching her kids play soccer, while contemplating the sustainability of being a soccer mom.




HIST 177 - From the Locomotive to the Smartphone: Culture, Space & Time in the Machine Age
Nathan Wood, History

Fulfills Goal 1, Learning Outcome 1 of the KU Core, 3 credit hours

How does the introduction of new machines affect the way we understand ourselves, as well as our conceptions of space and time? Additionally, how can the historical study of this process of adaptation help us understand our current relationship with technology? This course will investigate humans’ relationship with technology over the past two centuries, paying particular attention to the ways that machines such as locomotives, artificial lighting, telephones, telegraphs, watches, bicycles, automobiles, and airplanes have been constrained by historical precedent while challenging and altering our attitudes toward spatiality and temporality. By studying these and other examples from the past, students will develop and practice skills that will help them in future college courses.

Professor Nathan WoodNathan Wood was born in the West, grew up in the South, and did his graduate work in the Midwest, at Indiana University. He has also spent a tenth of his life in Poland, where he lived in the early nineties, 2001, and most recently, as a Fulbright scholar from August to December, 2012. His major research interests include modernity, identity, cities, and technology in East Central Europe from the 1880s to 1939. His current research on bicycles, automobiles, and airplanes in Poland before WWII intersects well with his passion for cycling and learning about fast machines he’ll never be able to afford. As befitting his last name, he also really likes trees.



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