University of Kentucky

Semester 20XX
Professor Tad Mutersbaugh
Course Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) which address Gen Ed Core
Competencies in part or in whole
1. Students will gain an understanding of how human activities affect, and are affected by,
environmental processes. This evidence-based assessment of people-environment
relations will help students to assess both the ways in which they directly affect the
environment and to provide them with analytical tools to assess their ‘footprint’. These
tools, ranging from energy analysis to biodiversity production, will both connect to
ongoing global political debates over biodiversity loss and habitat destruction, and
provide insights with respect to who are the greatest contributors. Since Lexington has
the largest per capital carbon footprint of any of the top 100 US cities (!!!) this is truly
brings the message ‘home’.
2. Since the 1970s, geography has, as a key disciplinary specialty, focused upon
environmental analysis. We will look at geographic themes such as time-geography,
transport analysis, and commodity-chain analysis in order to obtain tools used to assess
environment-human linkages.
Sufficiently detailed roadmap for the course
The course begins with commodity chain analysis. This places the focus of attention on the
spatio-temporal movement of particular commodities as they move from cites of production to
sites of consumption. Rubics such as ‘energy-miles’, ‘food-miles’, and other ecological footprint
assessments are used to understand both the role played by producers and consumers, and also
to understand the industrial assemblages that process and reconstitute so many products in
complex global value-webs.
The course continues with a focus on biodiversity. Biodiversity loss is a key global problem, with
thousands of species lost each year. In part, but only in part, this is connected to global
warming, but this course will move beyond this to look at:
1. biodiversity-destroying activities ranging from genetic erosion to habitatdestruction (fragmentation, contamination, eradication), to invasive species.
2. Biodiversity conservation activities such as parks and reserves, organic and
sustainable agriculture and forestry, sustainable catch fishing, and wholescale
economic transformation to green technologies
The last component is a comparative analysis of carbon footprints. By this point students will
have a sufficiently well-developed understanding of commodity chains and environmental
degradation and conservation to assess urban activities (transport and housing release of CO2),
determine commodity-chain impacts upon distant locales, and propose mitigation activities
through environmental subsidies (plantings, etc.), use reduction, or green technologies.
Students will evaluate global costs and benefits of ecological conservation
How assignments build on each other
This is explored above.
Narrative: How assignments achieve Gen Ed Core Competencies
These will provide students with critical analytical tools that will help them to meet future life
challenges and become a competent global citizen by better understanding the global impact of
local actions and the importance of addressing, both personally and politically, the
consequences of individual and collective action. Students will develop arguments to address
global debates on the future of habitats and the ethical relation among humans and between
humans and non-human species.
List of Support Materials: