CE 203 Envisioning a Sustainable World

Famous "Earthrise" pic taken from space in December 1968. This new perspective emphasized 1) the isolation and 2) the beauty of our home planet -- 'spaceship Earth'.


Note: despite being listed as a “CE” course, this is not an engineering course – we will explore some big challenges to sustainability in the modern world and some potential solutions, but you don’t need to know a lick about calculus and all that. In fact much of the “engineering” needed for a sustainable world is societal or policy oriented, which us engineers are ill-equipped to tackle! All majors/disciplines are welcome.

In this seminar-style course we take a cross-disciplinary approach to explore the concept of “sustainability” and its application to societal needs – e.g., water resources, energy, food, and infrastructure on a limited planet (see pic above) whose climate is changing. You will read, think, share ideas, lead discussion, write, watch film and apply what you learn to a semester project. You will attain (1) an appreciation of the interconnectedness of built systems and the natural environment, (2) an understanding of the economic, social/cultural, and environmental dimensions of sustainability, (3) you will be able to apply this knowledge to decision-making.

Sustainability Rocks! – click here and you’ll understand

“The ‘greatest good for the greatest number’ applies to the number within the womb of time, compared to which those now alive form but an insignificant fraction. Our duty to the whole, including the unborn generations, bids us restrain an unprincipled present-day minority from wasting the heritage of these unborn generations.” – Teddy Roosevelt writing about conservation of natural resources in 1916

“it is the continuing policy of the Federal Government… to use all practicable means and measures, including financial and technical assistance, in a manner calculated to foster and promote the general welfare, to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony, and fulfill the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations of Americans.” – National Environmental Policy Act (1969), Section 101(a)

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (the standard definition, if there is one) – UN Brundtland Commission definition, 1987

Gallery of sustainability pics from Spring 2011 in Madrid

Class blog from Spring 2011 in Madrid