Earth is a lively and dynamic planet that is undergoing rapid changes wrought by the activities of humans. In what ways are these changes impacting on us and other species? Are we precipitating another mass extinction; the 6th major mass extinction since life exploded on Earth some 500 million years ago? How will the way humans formulate and apply international and national policies continue to drive change? What are our own values regarding change and how does that colour our perceptions of Earth Shaping?
This subject will explore some dilemmas of Earth Shaping through the prisms of science, philosophy and governance. Online content investigates the scientific theories of modern Earth and life systems, along with practicals and quizzes, delves into the rock record to understand some mechanisms of past extinctions. A short essay provides the opportunity to express your own values and recognise those of others. Discussions with tutors and peers will engender debate on how values and human governance impacts go beyond local solutions to help us shape a planet we want to call home.
The final design project will mesh Earth systems, human impacts and questions of governance. It will provide a launching point for discussions between peers. Time is allocated for modification of individual projects and reflection on final submissions.
More than ever before humans are a force of nature that can reprogram the planet. Understanding our abilities means that we are probably the first ever species to consider limiting our activities. Overviews in science, philosophy and policies will equip participants to better understand our unique position and impacts as human Earth shapers.