With Phase II registration in progress, SLS would like to highlight three exciting affiliated courses!  HTS 2803: Special Topics – Environmental Sociology, Instructor: Kate Pride Brown; LMC 6312: Technology, Representation and Design (“Data Walks”), Instructor: Yanni Loukissas; ​MGT 4803: Sustainable Marketing, Instructor: Dionne Nickerson.  Check out these courses, and the rest of our Fall 2017 course offerings on our Courses page.

HTS 2803: Special Topics – Environmental Sociology   Instructor: Kate Pride Brown

The Georgia Tech students who affiliate with programs like Serve-Learn-Sustain are world-savers. With passion and dedication, they will be the ones who design a better solar battery, envision sustainable logistical systems, fight the cancers arising from toxic pollution, and lead the businesses and organizations that strive to build a better future. To do these things, they take courses in engineering, computer science, biochemistry, and business. While these subjects provide a vital understanding of the “how-to” for tackling environmental problems, there is also a discipline that offers students another, different critical skill: understanding the human systems that help to create environmental crises in the first place – systems that frequently counteract our well-meaning attempts to produce change. To begin to address these concerns, we must turn to sociology.

Environmental sociology helps students to see environmental problems as embedded in a larger set of social relationships, which may be cultural, political or economic. It also encourages students to think reflexively and systemically about the means toward achieving sustainable outcomes.  Such a skill does not come naturally. In an institution like Georgia Tech that emphasizes technological problem-solving, the political and social embeddedness of technological systems may often be overlooked. People generally take their social world for granted. Moreover, the boundaries we set around technical problems seldom include social analysis – and yet, without that knowledge, our proffered solutions may fail for reasons that are social, rather than technical. For those who seek to design, build, and implement sustainability, sociology has much to offer.

Environmental sociology reminds us that our perception of the environment, the sources of environmental crisis and the myriad effects of environmental degradation all take place in the context of human relationships – and it is those human relationships that become the central focus of environmental sociology. It provides students with a different lens – one that takes questions of power, justice and culture as pivotal.  Once students learn to utilize this lens, they better understand the origins of environmental problems, the stratified effects of environmental harm, and – vitally – the different social implications of our chosen solutions.

To help students begin to interact with these issues, I am offering a new course this fall: HTS 2803 Special Topics: Environmental Sociology.  The course will explore a number of theories about the human-environment nexus and will delve into case studies on climate change, water security, post-industrial production, toxic pollution and wilderness preservation.  Students will also have the opportunity to conduct original social research on an environmental issue.  The course is open to all students, from any major, and I look forward to having some SLS world-savers join up!

LMC 6312: Technology, Representation and Design (“Data Walks”)  Instructor: Yanni Loukissas

This course seeks to engage graduate students from across Georgia Tech in exploring what Atlanta looks like through public data. Today, data on the city of Atlanta are increasingly available. Micro and macro changes in the makeup of local neighborhoods can be tracked through demolition and construction permits, tax records, and community surveys, among other sources; all of which might be easily downloaded by anyone with an internet connection. But data can be available, without necessarily being accessible. In this course, students will examine how data can be made accessible and interpretable through publically-oriented data installations designed to open dialogue about ongoing changes in the life of the city.  

The focus and the site for our installations will be the Atlanta Beltline: one of the most visible ongoing works of infrastructure in Atlanta. The project is currently under construction along a loop of disused railroad tracks that circumvent the city, stitching together some of Atlanta’s most historic neighborhoods and bringing with it new facilities for recreation, transportation, and housing greatly needed by a growing Intown population. But we don’t yet know how the Beltline is transforming communities along its path. The course will investigate how, through a series of hybrid physical and virtual “walks” through data, we might foster public discussion about this question.

LMC 6312 will combine aspects of a seminar and a studio. Early in the term, students will read about and discuss theories and practices from data studies and data visualization. Thereafter, students will develop their own data installation projects (i.e. sidewalk drawings, projections, audio, or augmented reality) in order to create a movable forum for public reflection on the Beltline. The course will equip students with the skills and resources necessary to think critically about cities through their data.  If you are interested in enrolling, please email the instructor (yanni.loukissas@lmc.gatech.edu) for a registration permit.

MGT 4803: Sustainable Marketing  Instructor: Dionne Nickerson

As environmental and social consciousness has grown in recent years, sustainability has emerged as an important market driver with the potential to grow profits and spur value creation. As a result, firms are increasingly making sustainability a strategic priority. This course considers sustainability through the lens of the marketing discipline. Through a combination of lectures, case studies, and class projects, this course examines the ways in which firms adapt their marketing strategies to meet business as well as societal needs.

Things you should know –

  • I am a 4th year doctoral student in marketing and I am interested in the intersection between business and society.
  • I am very excited about teaching this course as it directly relates to my ongoing research.
  • One of my current research projects relates with sustainability in the fashion industry and I plan on integrating aspects of this project into the course.
  • I want this course to be primarily discussion based, therefore we will explore current events and recent business cases related to sustainability and marketing.
  • I welcome students from other disciplines!