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University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Earth and Mineral Sciences (EM SC)

EM SC 101 (US;IL) Resource Wars (3) "Resource Wars" presents an analysis of natural resources and how competition for them shapes national and international cultures and geopolitics.

EM SC 101 Resource Wars (3)

The faculty of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences are uniquely qualified to teach “Resource Wars”, a course that presents an analysis of natural resources and how competition for them shapes contemporary and historical culture and geopolitics. “Resource wars” will examine the extent to which the Gulf War of 1991, the explosive conflict between the United States and Islamic extremists, and present engagement in Iraq are manifestations of a foreign policy that comes from a desire for resource security. While the current Iraq war is the most recent manifestation of the clash between US and IL cultures, there are many examples of past resource wars in world history. Although the present conflict in the Middle East is about petroleum, past conflicts involve the entire spectrum of natural resources from gold and diamonds to rubber and tea to water, clean air, and living space. Class discussion will meld the technical aspects of discovery and extraction with its impact on society from a cultural and geopolitical points of view (US & IL).

Technical analysis starts with the geology of the natural resource. The extraction, harnessing, or mining of that natural resource and resource transportation come next. The use of that natural resource as a material follows. Of course, short term and long climatic instability may play roles. The human elements (US & IL) involved in the trading and development of the resource lead to both armed interstate conflicts and intrastate disputes. Cultural questions might include how the digital age impact resource control and trade, how global resource distribution impacts energy security and utilization, and how international resource competition impacts the climate. Ultimately, the class is led to an understanding about how scarcity has impacted cultures throughout human history (US & IL).

The tentative plan is that each lecture period consists of two parts starting with a moderator (the lead faculty member throughout the entire semester) who summarizes the resource under discussion in a 10-15 minute introduction. Then, appropriate EMS faculty will offer detailed accounts of their particular expertise. This format requires two 75-minute classes per week (30 per semester).

The moderator shall be responsible for grading the class including the discussion and written responses in a large classroom format (50+ students) taught in one lecture hall. Active learning shall include discussion sessions with a wireless response pad technology for in-class interaction between student and instructor.

General Education: None
Diversity: US;IL
Bachelor of Arts: None
Effective: Summer 2006

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.


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Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.

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