Cultures of Sustainability

You are here

Course Number: 
GRMN 181 950
There are no prerequisites or language requirements.
Primary Program: 
Course Note: 
Summer abroad course. Special session: 06/12/2017 to 06/23/2017
Course Description: 

Sustainability is more than science, engineering, policy, and design. Surveying the world, we see that the politics and practice of sustainability play out in different ways depending on cultural factors. Some cultures are more prone to pursue ecological goals than others. Why? Do the environmental history and experience of a nation affect policy? Do nature and the environment play a crucial role in the cultural memory of a nation? Can cultural components be effectively leveraged in order to win approval for a politics of sustainability? And what can we, as residents of a country where climate change and global warming are flashpoints in an enduring culture war, learn from other cultures? This course is designed to equip undergraduate students with the historical and cultural tools necessary to understand the cultural aspects of sustainability in two countries noted for their ecological leadership and cultural innovation, Germany and the Netherlands.

This hybrid course combines online instruction with a short-term study abroad experience in Berlin and Rotterdam. During the pre-tip online portion of the course, students will become acquainted with the cultural histories of German and Dutch attitudes toward sustainability and the environment through a combination of recorded lectures by the instructor, reading assignments, viewing assignments (documentary and feature films), threaded discussions, and short written assignments. The goal of the pre-trip instruction are to help students develop tools for analyzing and interpreting cultural difference, construct working models of German and Dutch concepts of sustainability, and formulate hypotheses about the relation between culture and policy in Germany and the Netherlands.

The class will spend a total of ten days in Europe: five days in Berlin and five days in the area of Rotterdam. The days will be jam-packed with visits to important sites of sustainable practice; discussion with policy makers, activists, and scientists; and immersion in the cultures of the Netherlands and Germany. Upon our return from Europe, the class will debrief and students will present online projects. There are no prerequisites or language requirements.

Programs for every

type of student


Study on-campus,

online or abroad


Summer is the best season

to be at Penn


Penn Summer

3440 Market Street, Suite 100
Philadelphia, PA 19104-3335

(215) 898-7326

Facebook Twitter