Jul 20, 2019  
2018-2019 Academic Catalog 
2018-2019 Academic Catalog

ENV 295-01 - Special Topic: The Anthropocene

4 credits (Fall)
In the three and-a-half billion year history of life on Earth, there has been no species quite like Homo sapiens. Through our use of symbolic language, memes, religions, nation-states, and capital, humans have forged a new geological Epoch in Earth’s history: the Anthropocene, an inflection point in the trajectory of life on Earth. We have warmed the atmosphere to the extent that humans have prevented (or at least delayed) the next Ice  Age. We are causing Earth’s sixth great  extinction event, creating a future that may be  attenuated of biodiversity and bereft of wilderness and at the same time preventing Earth’s seventh great extinction event by developing the technology to divert the next killer asteroid. The domestication and exchange of species between continents have created strange new ecosystems. By manipulation of their genetic code, we have created new species. We have created the first known extraterrestrials, from Apollo moon-walkers to microbes hitchhiking on Mars landers. Every student at Grinnell College will be coming of age during the Anthropocene. This course will explore what’s in store for them.

Prerequisite: Second-year standing.
Instructor: Campbell