The Political Economy of the American Coast: Past, Present, and Future of a Dynamic Landscape (ENV4111.01)

David Eisenhauer

How and why has the coast become so central to American cultural and economic life? Who has benefited from the rapid growth of coastal development over the last century, and who has been excluded? What does the future hold for coastal landscapes and communities, and what can be done to address emerging inequalities and vulnerabilities? This course will examine the past, present, and future of the American coast through a focus on political power, racial inequality, environmental management, and cultural imagination. We will explore a variety of governmental policies, cultural practices, and economic processes that have shaped the shore as we know it today as well as present opportunities for achieving more inclusive and sustainable futures. The course will provide an overview of the problems and opportunities within the American coastal landscape as well as examine four case studies: (1) New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina, (2) the southern Atlantic Coast and racial segregation; (3) suburbanization and the New Jersey shore; and (4) the working coast of New England. For the final project, students will research a coastal landscape in the United States and produce a paper that explores that regions history, current conditions, and possible future. Each student will share their findings with the class through a final presentation.


Learning Outcomes:
To understand how and why coastal socioecological landscapes developed during the 20th century;
To understand how emerging challenges related to climate change impact coastal landscapes;
To learn how methodologies from the humanities and social sciences can be combined to analyze contemporary issues;
To research the past, present, and potential future of one coastal region.



Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: Permission of instructor.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
M/Th 1:40PM - 3:30PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 18
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: All courses , Environment , Society Culture and Thought , Updates , Fully In-Person
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