[Alternate Code(s):CIVL 1170] Big History as an emerging interdisciplinary framework, provides a long term perspective to see the world through reconstructing the history from the big bang all the way to the present. In such a longer time scale, overview of stars, planetary and species evolution, as well as concepts in climate change and how it is related to sustainability of the planet’s environment for its current inhabitants, including humanity, will be discussed. The physical science basis, impacts, risk, mitigation and adaptation measures of climate change will also be investigated (including technical and social solutions). For local and regional vulnerabilities, such as extreme weather events, sea-levels rise, storm surge and coastal flooding, will be covered. The significance of collective learning under the big history framework, both as a driver for our exponentially growing impacts, as well as for better solutions, will be highlighted.
On successful completion of the course, students will be able to:
- Apply the Big History “complexity and fragility” and “collective learning” concepts to critically assess the social and political risks, vulnerabilities as well as business opportunities associated with climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.
- Demonstrate integrative understanding of sustainability-related subjects under the Big History framework, including recognition of homo sapiens’ unique role in maintaining sustainability of ecosystem for us and many other species, and thus, to argue for or against a variety of audiences on controversial climate-related issues.
- Synthesis observational evidences and understanding of modeling frameworks, then interpret and argue for/against the occurrence of anthropogenic climate change.
- Understand historical contingencies from the shifting scales under Big History perspective and the relation of environmental impacts, the change of atmospheric composition and technology (collective learning) under the rapid industrial and economic development in the past 250 years.
- Utilize physical principles to explain the science of star formation, planetary evolution, the greenhouse effect and global climate change.
- Justify the rationales behind adoption of climate change mitigation and adaptation measures by governments and major corporations around the globe irrespective of climate modeling uncertainties and limitations.