Spring 2024 Sustainable Development GU4500 section 001



Call Number 14838
Points 1
Grading Mode Standard
Approvals Required Instructor
Instructor Jason Smerdon
Method of Instruction In-Person
Course Description

In this class, students will travel to Cuttyhunk Island in Massachusetts to explore issues of history, sustainability, and climate change. It will serve to address the one-credit practicum requirement in the Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development.  The overarching question students will ask is: what does it mean to inhabit a place well? To answer this, students will read a selection of literary, historical, and scientific texts while performing physical labor including meal preparation and oyster cultivation on Cuttyhunk Island and assuming responsibility for their classmate community through self-governance. Taught in collaboration with faculty at the Gull Island Institute, the course enables students to critically investigate multiple ways in which knowledge of place is produced and to explore how such knowledge informs, and ought to inform, practices of sustainable development. In traveling to Cuttyhunk Island, students will take up a standpoint from which to consider their own learning goals and develop approaches to more fruitfully engaging the places of Manhattan Island and the Columbia University campus in the course of their SDEV studies.

The class will use the physical setting of islands, and the conjunction of seminar with labor, self-governance, and everyday life, to connect different kinds of knowledge across boundaries of discipline and tradition, thought, and embodied practice. Students will analyze written texts, but they will also be challenged to read and interpret a piece of the landscape, an object, or ecosystem through their immersive experience on Cuttyhunk Island. Readings will investigate the natural and human histories of the Buzzards Bay region, contemporary sustainability efforts on Cuttyhunk, as well as the wider assumptions and categories that shape the ideas of sustainability and habitability: what models of action and agency are entailed in these concepts? What relationships between humans and non-human (beings and environments) do such concepts presuppose? Finally, what skills, structures, and actions are necessary to make places habitable, and inhabit them well?

Web Site Vergil
Department Earth Institute
Enrollment 13 students (15 max) as of 4:06PM Saturday, February 24, 2024
Subject Sustainable Development
Number GU4500
Section 001
Division Interfaculty
Campus Morningside
Note Course will tentatively take place from April 11-14. Priorit
Section key 20241SDEV4500W001