Environmental Issues in Chile

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Environmental Issues in Chile

  • Host University

    Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso

  • Location

    Valparaíso and Viña del Mar, Chile

  • Area of Study

    Environmental Science

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview


    PIIE 436 Environment Issues in Chile

    Duration: 60 contact hours
    Credits: 4


    Course description

    The course aims at studying and analyzing global environmental problems of modern society. Students will discuss the causes of such problems and analyze their possible solutions.

    Rationale and impact of the course

    In modern trends of higher education, professor traditional teaching approach is substituted by the concept of student learning. Accordingly, the course will have a few lecture classes by the professor. The course will focus on interactive discussions about global environmental issues. During the discussions in class, every student will have the opportunity of expressing their opinions and discussing (or strengthening) their classmate opinions. The professor will select appropriate cases, articles and videos for the discussions.

    Students will complete their learning by the following field trips:

    1) Environmental impact of the Ventanas copper smelter (Puchuncaví valley). During the field trip, students will understand and discuss the historical effects of the smelter on ecosystems and agriculture. Students will also visit experimental plots of different soil remediation techniques.
    2) Environmental impact of avocado orchards on ridges along steep-hillslopes (Quillota). During the field trip, students will observe and discuss soil erosion in these avocado orchards. Students will also visit experimental plots of different techniques to decrease the soil erosion.
    Learning outcomes and expected student competencies:

    The course will encourage students to obtain global environmental awareness and an informed personal opinion regarding global environmental issues. Interactive discussions will contribute to the development of oral communication, reflection capability, critical analysis of information, and respectful attitude towards different ideas and opinions. In order to incentive development of teamwork capacity, the course will be divided in groups.

    Specific requirement of the course:

    Students whose attendance to class will be below 80% because of certain problems (personal or health-related) will automatically fail the course.


    The academic work will be evaluated on the basis of 3 group compositions. Grades of composition will consider the quality of the writing and teamwork under the following criteria:

    Writing quality

    Special attention will be given to the following aspects:

    Rigorous systematic and formal language
    Structure (problem, possible solutions)
    Writing (clarity and consistency of ideas, well-structured paragraphs, short sentences)
    Orthography and syntax
    Strength of the proposal


    This aspect will be evaluated based on the random selection of a representative of each group to present the composition. The student who will be absent at the moment of the presentation of the composition because of certain problems (personal and health related) will not have right to be evaluated.

    Course units

    Thematic unit 1: Introduction
    Humans and nature: The world of complex interconnections
    Concept of sustainable development: Environmental, social, and economic aspects

    Thematic unit 2: Social and economic aspects
    Population growth and urbanization. Globalization. Global inequality: the rich versus the poor. Food production and water availability

    Thematic unit 3: Environmental aspects
    Main environmental problems
    Loss of natural resources: Natural habitats, natural supply sources, biological diversity, soils
    Intrinsic limits of natural resources: energy, fresh water, photosynthetic capacity
    Detrimental elements: toxic chemical products, alien species, atmospheric gases

    Thematic unit 4: Over-consumption and the ecological crisis
    Does consumption mean happiness? From consumerism to balanced consumption. The advantages of balanced consumption

    Thematic unit 5: Solutions for global environmental problems
    The New Century: decisions and challenges. Optimism or pessimism? Where to start? A change: education, information, and social influence.

    Examples of the bibliography to be selected
    Diamond, J., 2011. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Revised Edition, Penguin Group. (Chapter of interest: The World as a Polder: What Does It All Mean to Us Today? Available as PDF).

    Isaac, G., Levy, J., and Ognits, A., 2012. The Benefits of the New Economy. ARI Publishers, Toronto, ON, Canada. (Chapter of interest: Toward Balanced Consumerismin the New Economy. Available as PDF).

    Laitman, M., and Ulianov, A., 2012. A Guide to the New World. ARI Publishers, Toronto, ON, Canada. (Chapters of interest: Nature and Us; Natural Development. Available as PDF).

    Laszlo, E., 2006. The Chaos Point: The World at the Crossroads. Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Charlottesville, VA, USA.


    ARI Institute, www.ariresearch.org
    Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New Worldview, www.crossroadsfilm.com
    Friends of the Earth Europe, www.foeeurope.org
    Mutual Responsibility, www.mutualresponsibility.org
    Sustainable Europe Research Institute, www.seri.at/en
    World Economic Forum, www.weforum.org
    World Wildlife Fund, www.wwf.org
    World Wisdom Council, www.clubofbudapest.org/wwc.php
    Worldwatch Institute, www.worldwatch.org

Course Disclaimer

Please note that there are no beginning level Spanish courses offered in this program.

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.


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