Courses

Environmental Photojournalism

Environmental cognition, consciousness and communication are produced, reproduced, interpreted and remembered with the support of visual representations and, in particular, photography.   Images increasingly structure our experience of nature, environmental problems, human-environmental relations, and ecological awareness.  Students will review critical literature focusing on visual representation theory, the relationship between images and social change, and the history and typology of environmental photography.  A basic understanding of modern environmental history, sustainability issues and environmental problems is required. Students will identify environmental narratives in Baltimore, document their stories through photojournalism, have their images critiqued in class, and develop a final documentary project focusing on one particular environmental narrative.  The class is designed with an emphasis on independent research and practice, interdisciplinary analysis and application.  It is geared towards GECS, Film & Media Studies and Writing Seminars majors, in addition to students interested or experienced in photography, film, journalism, psychology, and public health.

Designing Sustainable Wellness

This course examines the convergence of social and environmental sustainability within the built environment.  The built environment refers to the space, structures and systems humans generate for living, working and playing.  This includes everything from homes and office buildings, to neighborhoods and cities, to green spaces and parks.  It also includes hard infrastructure, such as energy, transportation and water systems, and soft infrastructure, such as formal human services (e.g. health, education, recreation).  More recently, the term has expanded to include conditions related to public health, such as walkability, bikability, and access to healthy foods.  This course will examine the conceptual frameworks that support the creation of built environments, assess their impact on environmental and social well-being, and re-imagine methodologies and designs that may better promote “sustainable wellness” or, socio-ecological sustainability, in the future.  Through case studies and a final design-based project, students will learn and apply the fundamental principles behind socio-ecologically sustainable design.  The course is designed with an emphasis on interdisciplinary analysis and systems thinking.  The course is geared towards GECS majors, in addition to students interested in psychology, design, architecture and urban planning.

Environmental Ethics

Environmental Ethics is a philosophical discipline that examines the moral relationship between human beings and the natural environment.  Beginning with an analysis of their own values, students will explore complex ethical questions, philosophical paradigms and real-life case studies.  Through readings, films, seminar discussions and debates, this course will help students strengthen their ability to communicate viewpoints rooted in ethical principles. Afterwards, students will apply these tools to an examination of contemporary environmental issues, ranging from natural resource depletion, pollution, species extinction, environmental justice, climate change, and overpopulation.  This course is geared towards Global Environmental Change & Sustainability and Philosophy majors.

Nature, Baltimore and a Sense of Place

This course integrates environmental literature, outdoor excursions, nature writing, and ecocriticism.  Students will survey a range of authors that have written about nature, environmental issues and sustainability.  These include, among others, Lao Tzu, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Edward Abbey, Donella Meadows, David Abram, Terry Tempest Williams, and Michael Pollan.  Students will define and explore the concepts of nature, sustainability, and a sense of place.  Weekly field trips to Baltimore’s parks and green spaces will encourage students to discover their own sense of place and environmental worldview through careful exploration, observation and reflection.  Throughout the course, students will write short, ecocritical essays that reflect on their experiences, perspectives, and insights.

GECS Senior Capstone Seminar

The GECS Senior Capstone Seminar encourages students who already have the basics of sustainability and earth science to explore many sustainability issues in greater depth.

The course is divided into three separate sections:

1. Capstone Presentations: Students will prepare, practice, and review presentations of their Capstone experience in small groups, followed by formal presentations open to the Johns Hopkins community.

2. Current Events: Through selective readings, students will gain greater knowledge in sustainability from the perspectives of many disciplines including, but not limited to, political science, economics, natural science, psychology, sociology, communication, business, health, history, and ethics. Students will hone their critical thinking and analysis skills by reviewing relevant literature, questioning theories and suppositions, and debating ideas about solutions to global environmental problems.

3. Campus Sustainability Project: Students will plan and execute sustainability initiatives and projects aimed at transforming the Recreation Center into a sustainable space and experience for students, staff, and faculty.

Interdisciplinary Research Practice in Sustainability & Health

This is a doctoral level course intended to help prepare Ph.D. students for successful research careers.  Research problems are increasingly requiring new, innovative, interdisciplinary research approaches.  Interdisciplinarity differs from multidisciplinarity by combining two or more academic disciplines into one activity (e.g. a research project) and creating something new by applying new thinking that crosses disciplinary boundaries.  Multidisciplinarity, on the other hand, involves scholars from different disciplines separately applying their disciplinary knowledge to a project without synthesis and integration.

Through the application of interdisciplinary research methods and skills to case studies, the course will provide hands-on training in the management, coordination, and practice of interdisciplinary research, in order to enable doctoral students to work effectively on interdisciplinary research and prepare them for professional success in an increasingly interdisciplinary funding environment.

This course will be in the format of a weekly seminar and laboratory and is open to all Johns Hopkins University Ph.D. students from any School.  No prior knowledge of sustainability or public health is required.  The course will, first, review fundamental principles of sustainability science and public health as background.   Using an online platform to complement the in-class learning and review process, students will be able to fill knowledge gaps they may have regarding the basic principles and academic foundations of sustainability and health.  A literature review of both fields will be included online, with an introduction for each critical reading so that students can understand the nature and relevance of the material.

For the remainder of the semester, students will develop an understanding and appreciation of applicable disciplines and perspectives by exploring a range of analytical frameworks and research tools from disciplines relevant to the interdisciplinary study of sustainability and health.  The course will facilitate an understanding by Ph.D. students (each being thoroughly grounded in at least one analytical framework of their home department) of the approaches taken by the diversity of disciplines needed within the team approaches necessary to address environmental problems, public health challenges, and other crucial questions within the realms of sustainability and health.

Each weekly seminar will be used as a platform for guest faculty to present a brief overview of their particular discipline, including the theoretical and methodological approaches used by that particular discipline.  This course component will allow students to gain exposure to how various disciplines view and consider intellectual problems.  Following the initial overview of each discipline, guest faculty and students will discuss ways in which the particular discipline fits into the study of sustainability and health issues, in the context of a real-world case study.  Through case studies, students will discuss and analyze how each discipline, and its respective methodological approaches and tools, can be utilized in addressing complex sustainability and health problems. The goal is to create new, innovative research methodologies that draw from different disciplines.

During the application/lab phase of the course, where disciplinary tools are applied to interdisciplinary case studies, students will also have the opportunity to learn, practice and reflect on skills needed to effectively work in interdisciplinary research groups.  Useful tools to be introduced include idea generation, leadership, interpersonal communication, group collaboration, and organizational skills.  The review and practice of those skills will draw on practical experiences of Hopkins researchers in addition to proven techniques from the field of organizational behavior.  This material will be taught in-class, with additional readings and resources provided through the online platform.

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