University Writing: Readings in Climate Humanities

Course Description

In his essay “Writing the Unimaginable,” the author Amitav Ghosh writes “[L]et us make no mistake: the climate crisis is also a crisis of culture, and thus of the imagination.” UW: Readings in Climate Humanities approaches this existential issue by affirming the relevance of voices that range from experts and activists in organizations like Columbia’s Earth Institute, to artists, academics and citizens. As such, the seminar draws from disciplines including history, literature, journalism, natural and social sciences, gender and sexuality studies, race and ethnicity studies, philosophy, law, and the arts. Students in Climate Humanities will read, think, speak, write, and revise guided by capacious and urgent questions, such as: What does it mean to live in the Anthropocene? What dynamics of power, both social and material, shape our approaches to the climate crisis? What are we talking about when we talk about climate?

At the same time, every UW class is at its heart a class in the craft of writing. Through learning to read and write scholarly essays, all UW students prepare to participate in intellectual communities at Columbia and beyond. Students will learn to analyze texts, put scholars in conversation with one another, conduct research, and write for a broader public. Students will use writing and revision as a way to think, just as the authors and activists we will read use these tools to interrogate humans’ roles in climate change. Like those writers, students will endeavor to engage ethically and rigorously with the ideas of others – who, after all, are fellow citizens of Earth, the place that the recent World Scientists’ Warning To Humanity: A Second Notice reminds us “with all its life is our only home.”

No prior content knowledge is required for UW Climate Hum. These classes will have section numbers of CC/GS1010.5xx.