Major Global Environmental Problems of Today and How We Must Deal With Them Tomorrow

Course Code: 
SM 635

Global environmental problems of today are some of the greatest challenges of the new millennium. Almost everyone is in some way part of the problem and increasingly will be asked to be a part of the solution. The problems that we face today often differ from those of the past because it is sometimes difficult for the international community to agree on the extent, causes, and impacts of the problem and how to allocate responsibility for the resolution of the problem. Governments, businesses and NGOs around the world have recognized the need to take the initiative and address these issues through regulation, voluntary approaches, and cooperation on an international level. How best to manage these problems is the constant challenge. This course will provide an overview of several of the major global environmental problems facing the world today, and how they are connected by common causes, underlying themes and concepts critical to the understanding and management of these issues. It will examine the over-arching concepts of sustainability and globalization as well as frameworks for assessing and managing the issues. The course will also consider the role of the major players/stakeholders in the situation, including governments, non-government organizations, and private sector individuals/participants, and where appropriate, touch on such issues as intergenerational aspects and the potential long-term irreversibility. With the assistance of regional and national experts, we will address specific problems, such as: human populations and their environmental impact; issues surrounding resources such as food, water, habitats, and energy; global climate change; the ozone layer; and problems of international/environmental terrorism, catastrophes, and disease. Each student will prepare a report and presentation on some aspect of a topic discussed during the term.