GENED 1018. How to Build a Habitable Planet

Is Earth one of many planets in an inhabited Universe, or is it the result of a low-probability accident? And what does the answer to that question tell us about humans’ relationship to our planet? The aim of this course is to place human beings in a universal and planetary context as we investigate the steps of planetary evolution and their significance to our current relationship to Earth. We will explore the origins of the solar system, life, and the elements, and more, placing humanity in the context of a process that may be universal. This then provides a novel perspective on current environmental problems and how we might deal with them, and the likelihood of alien beings and whether we need to fear them. Assignments include the book How to Build a Habitable Planet, two-hour sections, experiments focusing on the environmental impact of how we live, and a field trip to see power generation and waste disposal. At the end of this course, you will have a greater understanding of the past, present, and future of the planet we call home, and the planetary consequences of your life decisions.






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General Education

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  • [Course titles in brackets] indicate that the course is not scheduled to be taught during the 2020-2021 academic year, but may be offered in an alternate year.
  • An asterisk (*) before a course number indicates that a student must obtain the instructor's permission in order to enroll in the course.

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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