ESP 802: Human Systems and the Environment

ESP 802: Human Systems and the Environment

Spring | Th 9:10 a.m. - noon 
Dr. Emilio Moran (, course coordinator)


ESP802 “Human Systems and the Environment” has been designed to provide students who have disciplinary training in natural sciences with a broad overview of environmental policy from the perspective of the social sciences. The curriculum design reflects ESPP’s objective of providing an interdisciplinary preparation to a cohort of students from diverse backgrounds pursuing an interest in environmental science and policy. 

The course will Introduce the major issues in global environmental change (GEC), focusing on the human dimensions of landscape change. This graduate seminar examines how human-environment research is currently undertaken. This is largely an interdisciplinary enterprise that requires collaboration across the social, natural and engineering sciences.  

An important focus is on learning what the social sciences have to offer to engineers and natural scientists when we do environmental research. We will look at how to ask questions that are truly interdisciplinary, problem-solving, and with potential to provide solutions and have an impact on policies that affect human communities.  

The following thematic and methodological areas will be of interest: 

  • The socioeconomic and environmental causes and consequences of environmental change 
  • Land use and cover change  
  • Institutional and governance dimensions of environmental change 
  • Coupled human-environment systems 
  • Mitigation/adaptation approaches  
  • Climate change and food security 

This seminar involves extensive reading and writing, emphasizing scholarly research and critique.  In addition to the instructor, a number of visiting speakers will meet with the class to share their experience doing research in human-environment interactions, representing sociology, systems analysis, climate modeling, and food security.