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Chemistry of the Anthropocene - Degree Course

The Anthropocene marks our current interval in Earth?s timeline, and is characterized by the imprint of human activities on the planet. Together, we will explore multiple lines of evidence that define this time period through the lens of chemistry, earth systems science, and history. We will learn and apply different principles in chemistry to trace and quantify the effect of human activities on water, soils, atmosphere and biological life. In particular, we will build a perspective of the planet as a network of interconnected systems, and consider the cultural history of humans as part of this network. Finally, we will evaluate sustainable solutions to the racial, gender and socioeconomic inequities tied to these human impacts. No prior experience in chemistry is required to take this course, but proficiency in basic algebra is preferred. Our knowledge will grow through case studies of specific elements and molecules, including carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, heavy metals, plastics and radioactive substances. We will engage in class discussions about the human-driven chemical reactions that have altered the movement of these ?tracers? through the planet, and the history of chemists who developed the techniques to detect these alterations. The course will culminate in a team debate around the date that marks the official start of the Anthropocene. Students will be evaluated by weekly chemistry assignments, two semi-open book exams, one final paper, and the group work involved in this debate. C

3.0 College Credits

Registration for this course is closed.

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Course start date
Course end date
Class meeting time 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Class meeting days Monday, Friday
Building and room ONLINE
Course number 1221
Course instructor Sarah Zhou Rosengard