GSC 250 - Geography of the Developing
GSC524 - Conservation of Natural Resources/Sustainable Development
Description: This course studies the relationship between population growth, natural resource exploitation, and conservation of the natural
environment, with Brazil as a case study. Emphasis is on local and global impacts of human activities, conservation techniques, and cultural
implications of development.
Purpose: The goals of this course are to examine human-environment relationships in a developing country, to evaluate the practical
implications of environmental policies or lack thereof, and to explore how society can develop sustainable lifestyles and conserve resources
for future generations.
Objective: Course objectives include the development of first-hand, field-based knowledge of environmental issues, hands-on experience in
evaluating environmental policies, practical exposure to natural resource management problems, and a clearer understanding of the dynamic of
sustainability in the exploration, use, and management of natural resources and the environment.
Content Outline: The course covers the following topics, with Brazil as a case study:
1. The development of human-environment relationships, theories, models, and policies;
2. The Brazilian context;
3. The human impact on vegetation;
4. The human influence on animals;
5. The human impact on the soil.
6. The human impact on water;
7. Landforms and human modification of the physical environment;
8. Human impacts on climate and the atmosphere;
9. The future of conservation in Brazil and globally;
10. Key issues and problems: Are changes reversible?
Instructional Activities: Classes will be field based, with most lectures and discussions occurring within the context of an organized
activity. Debates, discussions, and daily summaries will take place at the lodging site each evening. Morning lectures frequently will
be held before beginning an excursion. Approximately 40 instructional hours are planned, with independent research activities (observation
and participation) supplementing official lectures and discussions.
Field Experiences: The following field experiences are part of the course syllabus:
1. Tour and Analysis of Brasilia, with a discussion about urban planning and sustainability;
2. Overnight excursion to the Araguaia River ecological site, with discussions on flora and fauna, ecotourism, and ecopolitics;
3. Urban analysis of Goiania, with discussions of pollution, waste management, the provision of basic human needs, and urban politics;
4. Exploration of the Amazon Basin's capital, Manaus, with a focus on raw material exploitation (oil, rubber, and timber), indigenous
environments, and tourism;
5. Excursion into the heart of the Amazon basin, with an analysis of rainforest destruction, global warming, water issues, channel and stream
erosion, and habitat loss;
6. An excursion in Natal (TBA);
7. An analysis of Salvador as the "Cultural Heritage of Humankind;"
8. Tour to Arembepe and discussions of plantation culture, indigenous rights, and development of the rural environment;
9. An urban analysis of Rio de Janeiro as a world megacity. Discussions and explorations of urban poverty, pollution, models of urban
sustainability, landscapes of fear, and landscapes of pleasure;
10. Rio's tourist infrastructure and the implications of development, including Sugar Loaf Mountain, the Christ Statue, Copacabana and
Ipanema, and the national reserves;
Resources: The course relies exclusively on the local community as its resource, and will have guest lecturers from Brazilian institutions and
environmental agencies. Students are encouraged to communicate with locals, government officials, faculty, and other resources in the
communities we visit.
Grading Procedures: Grades are allocated based on the following criteria:
1. Level of enthusiasm and participation in the daily discussions and activities (15 percent);
2. Demonstrated engagement with, and understanding of, the assigned required reading (30 percent);
3. Written research reports addressing environment issues in Brazil (35 percent);
4. Written exercises, daily journal, and other written work as determined by the professor during the course (20 percent).
Attendance Policy: Attendance and participation in ALL scheduled meetings, discussions, debates, and excursions are mandatory. The only
exceptions are for serious, documented illness (hangovers, sunburn, or general malaise, etc., are not considered serious illness!).
Text and References: (1) Goudie, Andrew (2000) The Human Impact on the Natural Environment. Boston: The MIT Press. ISBN: 0262571382
(2) Roberto P. Guimaraes (1995) The Ecopolitics of Development in the Third World: Politics and Environment in Brazil. Boulder: Lynne Rienner.
ISBN 1555875688 (Paperback $19.95). You should purchase the required reading BEFORE leaving the U.S.
Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for this course and all course material and activities are in English, although students
MUST be prepared to engage with
the course material and with the Brazilian environment. Juniors, seniors, and
graduates should enroll in GSC524, while freshmen and sophomores should enroll in GSC250.
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Last updated 5/19/00