European cities are generally more sustainable than their American counterparts, with the proportion of material and energy consumed for the daily needs of a single person ranking a third to 50% less, while the quality of life rates higher. This difference derives partly from the pre-industrial origins of European cities and partly from a conscientious effort by politicians and administrators to encourage life style and energy alternatives that reduce greenhouse gases. While laws, techniques, and design have a lot to do with the difference, lifestyle is perhaps the strongest factor. Students in this course will pursue three methods of study: a critical exploration of the history, social dimensions, and scientific premises of ecological awareness; development of a case study, becoming an expert on one factor of sustainability in one particularly well-organized European city; and participation in the tabulation of a full range of factors in an overall Urban Sustainability Index that can be applied to any city (including Florence).
Course-related fee: A fee will be charged to cover Florence site visits (2019–2020 fee = $55).