AOSC 661 Sustainability Modeling

Overview

This course is suitable for students who are concerned with sustainability issues, have little or no background in computational modeling, but would like to understand what modeling can do to help solve sustainability problems. By exploring a variety of contemporary societal issues (e.g., water scarcity, biodiversity loss, energy dependence), you will be introduced to modeling approaches for simulating and quantitatively understanding sustainability variables (inputs and outputs), and using modeling towards the design of policy measures that can be implemented as a response to such issues.  A general modeling framework is developed using systems dynamics theory. Video-based lectures will be complemented with online discussion sessions and real-world based modeling exercises to get hands-on knowledge of practical solutions to sustainability challenges. Open to students of all backgrounds.

GEOG 416 Conceptualizing and Modeling Human-Environmental Interactions

Overview

The aims of this course are to enable students to develop modelling skills and analytical ability for carrying out research projects which integrate environmental and economic aspects of sustainability. Through lectures, group work, and hands-on computer sessions, the class will familiarize students with some extensively used quantitative tools for analyzing human-environment interactions. By the end of the semester you should have some understanding of a number of currently commonly-used approaches, software packages and tools for analysis within the fast-growing field of Ecological Economics. On successful completion of the class you will have demonstrated the ability to apply and critically discuss a number of the widely used tools in the sustainability discourse, which include index number calculations and decomposition analysis (I=PAT), the Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC), environmental input-output analysis, systems dynamics, and multi-criteria decision aid (MCDA).

GEOG 430/630: Selected Topics in Human Geography; Climate, Energy, and Policy

Overview

This course considers climate change and energy policy from multiple perspectives including social economic, technological, scientific, and behavioural aspects and their inter- dependence. The course will also consider the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on mitigation and applied cost/benefit analysis of Climate Change. For-mat will be discussion, supplemented with lecture segments and applied workshops as needed. This course will make occasional use the popular open source statistical computer language R for practical workshops.

GEOG 738E Modeling Coupled Human-Natural Systems

Overview

A social-ecological system consists of a given ecosystem, delimited by either spatial or functional boundaries, and the social actors and institutions associated with this system. As such, a social-ecological system is perceived as being highly complex, where humans can affect the ecosystem and vice versa. In this course, we place emphasis on conceptualizing and modeling such systems with an integrated perspective that draws from geographical sciences, ecological economics, sociology, earth sciences, systems sciences, common property research, political ecology, sustainable development, and other related fields. We will explore a range of conceptual approaches and models such as Environmental Input-Output Analysis, Computational General Equilibrium Analysis, Social Network Analysis, and System Dynamics —specifically, the Human and Nature Dynamical Model (HANDY) and the Coupled Water Model (COWA). We will also introduce the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs) to gain a basic understanding and guide our modeling efforts. In particular, we will discuss different policies on mitigation of, as well as adaptation to, climate change for a specific area, such as the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and other interesting case studies. This course is taught by the faculty from multiple disciplines. The course is cross-listed in the Departments of Geographical Sciences and Atmospheric & Oceanic Science, and is open to students from all over the UMD campus.

GEOG 788J Selected Topics in Geography; Deforestation, Land Grab, and Global Commodity Chain

Overview

In today’s globalized world, national, regional, and local economies are intensely interlinked through global supply chains. Extraction of raw materials, manufacturing of products and assembly to final products and consumption are increasingly met by global supply chains that often involve large geographical distances and lead to global environmental change, such as climate change, water scarcity and deforestation and other land cover change, all impacting important ecosystem services. This development has been driven by a change in the level and composition of international trade. This course will explore 1) major trends of commodity trade in different regions of the world; 2) existing global trade database; 3) environmental accounting approaches and models, such as environmental Input-output analysis and life-cycle analysis; 4) social and economic drivers of local, regional and global land cover and land use change with regard to land displacement and deforestation.

SOCY 498A Selected Topics in Sociology; Social Networks

Overview

SOCY 709P Advanced Special Topics in Data Analysis; Network Analysis

Overview

This course is intended as a survey of the theory and methods pertaining to social networks. Class time will be devoted to learning principles, theoretical perspectives, and appropriate software packages (mainly those in R) for analyzing social network data. The readings are a combination of introductory-level material, classic, scholarly readings in the field, and empirical studies that apply social network analytic techniques to topics relevant to sociology and the social sciences as a whole. The first weeks are structured around readings, group discussion, and lab (e.g. going through example scripts in R). The last few weeks are geared more towards students’ individual projects, culminating in small presentations (similar to conference paper presentations) on a topic of your choosing, and a final paper/project, again shaped according to your own needs/interests.


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