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College of Arts and Sciences

Theme Semester

Fall 2021 – Climates

Climate, with an S. Because the word has multiple meanings that affect each of us every day, down to the air we breathe. 

  • We face the effects of climate change and try to remedy its causes with cutting-edge climate science. 
  • The political climate divides or unites nations, while the social climate affects the way we connect with each other. 
  • And yet climate still retains its original meaning, referring to regions of the earth. 

We invite you to study Climates with us from diverse perspectives throughout the College of Arts and Sciences during the Fall 2021 semester. 

New Courses 

More than 30 courses throughout the College of Arts and Sciences and South Carolina Honors College will explore some aspect of Climates, ranging from ethics and the environment to race and gender. 

Theme Semester includes three brand new courses: 

ITAL 330 / 398 | By Pia Bertucci 
Climate change poses a potential threat to food systems globally, as droughts affect food supplies. But food culture affects climate change, too, as food waste in landfills increases the levels of methane gas. 
This course will examine this relationship and explore how the basic tenets of Italian Foodways — sustainability, eating seasonally and cucina povera — in tandem with progressive Italian movements such as "Slow Food" and "Food for Soul" effectively navigate these challenges. 
Through research projects and a final paper, students will incorporate the specific lessons in the class with broader lessons from Theme Semester events to further their understanding of the global relationship between climates and food systems. 

ENGL 439 | By Greg Forter 
This course asks what literatures from across the globe can teach us about the causes, effects and potential solutions to global climate change. 
We'll discuss a series of novels in which the disasters of such change are explored with great complexity and power. These works invite questions about the local experience of global transformations, why are devastations unevenly distributed around the world? What does the emphasis on dystopian futures reveal about the task of imagining alternatives to our current order? 

MSCI 599 | By Lori Ziolkowski 
Climate change is happening whether we accept it or not. Therefore, we need to understand why it is happening, what the impacts of it will be, and how we can stop it? But for some, a science class can be intimidating. 
This course bridges the gap by using science fiction — or climate fiction — to discuss the physical basis of climate change, the impacts on society and how we can cool a future planet. Literary works from the late 19th century through today explore scenarios of extreme global warming and cooling, widespread drought and flooding due to projected sea level rise. 

Three courses are being reimagined: 

HIST 360 and GERM 295 / ENVR 295 | By Lara Ducate and Thomas Lekan 
Green Technology in Germany and Into the Wild: Conservation since 1800 will be taught side-by-side in the Green Quad learning center to facilitate collaboration. 
These courses historically focus on both the natural and cultural Climates that have shaped sustainable practices inside and outside the US. Taken together, they offer students a unique interdisciplinary opportunity to engage sustainability topics through humanistic perspectives. 
This Fall the courses will explore how global warming and climate justice are reshaping the environmental movement to be more inclusive of local, indigenous and urban communities and perspectives. Several field trips will be offered to allow students to see climate action close to home. 

MSCI 311 | Erin Meyer-Gutbrod 
This marine science course examines how aquatic organisms are involved in cycling materials and energy through marine food webs. During Theme Semester, the course will dive deep into exploring the impacts of warming, acidifcation, ice melt and sea level rise on marine biological processes. A new lab component will introduce hands-on experience. 

RUSS 319 | By Alex Ogden 
Russian authors discussed climate and the environment more than 100 years ago. During Theme Semester, this course will introduce new units that explore passages of Russian literature in which the country’s climate is mapped onto the mental, moral and emotional life of its citizens. 

Affiliated Courses 

The following affiliate courses will address various facets of Climates, from environmental to social. 
Note to students and advisors: Pay attention to the faculty member listed for each course in order to sign up for the section that will connect to the Climates theme. 

AFAM 397 / SOCY 398 | Unpacking Whiteness | Deena Isom 
ANTH 381 | WGST 381 | Gender and Globalization | Drucilla Barker 
ARTH 321 | History of Northern REnaissance Art | Anna House 
BIOL 570 | Principles of Ecology | Joshua Stone 
BIOL 571 / ENVR 571 | Conservation Biology | Carol Boggs 
CHEM 542L | Physical Chemistry Laboratory | Andrew Greytak 
CHEM 623 | Introductory Environmental Chemistry | John Ferry 
CRJU 591 / AFAM 397 | Miscarriages of Justice | Deena Isom 
ENGL 102 | Anthropocene Composition: Climate Changes, Climate Crises | John Purfield 
ENGL 439 | World Literature and Global Climate Change | Greg Forter 
ENVR 501 / GEOG 510 | Special Topics: Socionatural Coastlines | Robert Dean Hardy 
FAMS 310 / GEOG 310 | Special Topics in Popular Media: Climates of Disasters | Mark Cooper 
GEOG 105 | The Digital Earth | Jory Fleming 
GEOG 202 | Weather and Climate | Greg Carbone 
GEOG 380 | Global Geography of Human Rights | Meredith DeBoom 
GEOG 573 | Climate Change and Variability | Greg Carbone 
GEOG 735 | Seminar in Political Geography | Meredith DeBoom 
GEOL 325 | Stratigraphy and Sedimentary Basins | Dave Barbeau 
GERM 295 / ENVR 295 | Green Technology in Germany | Laura Ducate 
HIST 360 | Into the Wild: Conservation Since 1800 | Thomas Lekan 
LING 305 | Ethics in the Language Classroom | Lesley Smith 
LING 305 / WGST 389 | Language, Gender, and Sexuality | Archie Crowley 
MSCI 750 / GEOL 750 | Advanced Analytical Methods: Chemical Climate of the Urban River | Howie Scher 
MSCI 752 | Marine Biochemistry | Xuefeng Peng 
PHIL 370 | The Ethics of Climate | Matt Kisner 
SCHC 311 | Tracking Climate Change: Discovering the Mathematics Behind Weather | Scott Dunn 
SPAN 575 / SPAN 783 | Ecological Cultural Studies in Latin America | Andrew Rajca 


Richard Alley giving presentation

Keynote Speaker 

Richard Alley, a noted geologist and host of the PBS documentary Earth: The Operator’s Manual, will present the keynote address for Theme Semester 2021. 
As a professor of geoscience at Penn State, Dr. Alley is widely credited with showing that Earth has experienced abrupt climate change in the past—and likely will again, based on his meticulous study of ice cores from Greenland and West Antarctica. In recent years, he has served as one of the authors on the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose members shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore. He believes that climate change does not have to be a partisan issue ― that we can deal with climate change without raising the temperature in the political climate. 
Further details, including the date and time of his keynote address, will be announced in the summer of 2021. 

Groups gathered in a lobby from above


Theme Semester will include a number of events related to the “Climates” theme. Watch for an announcement in May. 


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.