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CAT 3

CAT 3 courses (six units, spring quarter) are writing and research intensive, focusing on collaboration, research, and art-making by speculating on how the relationships between culture, art, and technology will be transformed in the future. Students must have passed CAT 2 in order to enroll in CAT 3.

Learning Objectives

Building off what you learned in CAT 1 and CAT 2, in CAT 3 you will:

  • Understand and practice effective research, including developing research questions.

  • Use research to make an effective multimodal argument towards a specific audience.

  • Engage with cultural products, including art and popular culture, as the result of research but also as legitimate objects of research.

  • Develop an independent research project: find and evaluate appropriate sources, compose research genres (such as annotated bibliographies and literature reviews, etc.), and practice revision.

  • Effectively collaborate with peers in the process of research and development of a multimodal project.

Core Concepts

By the end of CAT 3, students should be able to understand and define the following terms and ideas:

  • Resistance/revolution.

  • Interdisciplinarity.

  • Art as argument.

  • Research as a process.

  • Interpersonal communication.

Spring 2021 Courses

CAT 3: Our Future Climate: A Story You Will Tell

Adam Burgasser

Professor, Physics
Tuesday/Thursday 2:00-3:20 p.m.

Global climate change is a reality, manifesting in extreme weather events, droughts and fires, rising seas and disappearing glaciers, and massive loss of biodiversity. But a trend is not inevitability, and there are ways we can collectively "bend the curve" to shape our future climate if we are willing to make significant changes. In this course, we will collectively imagine our future in a changing world—as individuals, as cultures, and as a species—in the context of different climate change scenarios. This exploration will be anchored in the scientific literature and the consensus findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; social scientific studies of cultures and communities experiencing climate crisis, the psychology and politics of climate change; art, literature, and popular media reflecting different views of our future climate; and the social and technological challenges and opportunities that shape how we address our future climate.

CAT 3: Environmental Futures: Media, Technology, and the Future of the Planet

Phoebe Bronstein

Assistant Teaching Professor, CAT
Asynchronous lectures

This CAT 3 course will examine how popular culture—magazine/newspaper articles, literature, film, and television—has and continues to imagine the future of the environment and the climate crisis. From contemporary films like Okja and Weathering with You to documentaries like March of the Penguins and Hollywood's The Day After Tomorrow, we will examine how mass media promotes, questions, and reinforces environmental politics. How can these future worlds help us understand and engage with our past, current, and future relationship to the environment? How do these films shape our own relationship with the planet? How do these visions sooth or exacerbate anxieties about topics like global warming? Potential topics we will cover include (but are not limited to) the climate crisis; capitalism and the environment; race, gender, and the environment; technology and the environment; and the politics of food. This course is driven by research, collaboration, and creativity—using film/literature/television texts to help us question and engage with ideas about the future of the planet. The texts we read, watch, and discuss will thus serve as models and inspiration for your own research projects. While there will be some assigned reading, much of what you read for this course will be articles of your own choosing, which will provide grounding for your original and collaborative final research projects: crafting a short television episode or film (fiction or documentary) that engages with questions and topics we've covered in class.

CAT 3: Queering Climate Change

BT Werner

Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Tuesday/Thursday 11:00 a.m.-12:20 p.m.

The dominant discourse on climate change centers on the past and possible future trajectories mapped out by scientists for Earth's climate, the origin of climate change in anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, the disastrous consequences that will ensue if action isn't taken immediately, and the secure and sustainable, although perhaps difficult, future that will result if the advice of scientists, engineers, and policymakers is followed. In effect, if the future is put in the hands of these experts, catastrophe will be be averted. This discourse has given rise to a focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions through incentives or restrictions and has narrowed popular and political discussion on climate change to peripheral arguments over whether change is happening, whether anthropogenic emissions are responsible, and what forms of green technology and geoengineering are best.

In this course, we are going to queer climate change by critiquing this discourse and envisioning alternate futures. First, we will sample well-established critical analysis frameworks such as indigenous ways of knowing, ecofeminism, ecowomxnism, critical race theory, postcolonialism, intersectionality, disaster capitalism/NGO industrial complex, environmental justice, crip theory, and queer theory to provide us with a lens and a set of tools to deconstruct the assumptions and logic that underlay climate change discourse. Then, guided by the foregrounding of marginalized voices, including BIPOC, People from the Global South, Womxn, Dissident Artists, People with Disabilities, Activists, and Queers, we will open up and explore the space of possible societal relationships to Earth's climate.

Students in this course will construct arguments surrounding climate change through writing, presentations, and art to chart an alternate description of where we've been, where we are, and where we are going. Read more about this class at https://courses.complex-systems-laboratory.org/cat3.

CAT 3: Representation and Rights: Disability in History and the Arts

Matthew Herbst

Director, Making of the Modern World

Lisa Porter

Professor, Theatre and Dance
Asynchronous lectures

Disability is an essential aspect of diversity, yet one that has too often been ignored, marginalized, and even denigrated. To overcome this bias, the disability community confronted cultural stigma and rigid boundaries that deprived them of fundamental civil and human rights. This course draws on the arts—in film, play, and the written word—to examine the long struggle for social and political change, highlighting the stories of people with disabilities—advocates, artists, and authors—who forged a pathway for inclusion. Course topics include racism and eugenics, the impact of war, institutionalization versus independent living, physical and educational access, advocacy and protest, and sport and technology. This course is co-taught by Lisa Porter, professor of Theatre and Dance, and historian Matthew Herbst.