Spring 2025 | Asia, Africa, and Europe Exploration

IE 272 World Interdependence – Current Global Issues

Overview of Course

A century of urbanization and expanded access to material wealth, which has accelerated dramatically over the last 50 years, has produced devastating consequences to our environment. This course will examine the global and local consequences of extractive resource use, climate impacts of a coal and gas-based economy, and implications of increasing consumption and sparse or scattershot waste mismanagement, with a particular focus on plastic pollution and its effect on the countries we will visit during the Spring 2025 SAS voyage. The course will analyze the motivations behind and progress to date of the United Nations “Global Plastics Treaty”, including the emergence of a “high ambition coalition” of member states as well as member states who reject binding terms, and the different positions held by stakeholder groups including environmental advocates, multinational consumer packaged goods companies, petrochemical companies, public health scientists, and the informal waste sector. The course will explore interdisciplinary (scientific, economic, political, religious) aspects of environmental degradation with an emphasis on the complexities of world interdependence.