earth, land ground

Exploring past, present, and future extinctions through the lens of sustainability

Director: Dr. Sarah Breckenridge Wright, English

This slide show explains the faculty team's plans for TERRA for 2020-21:


Fall 2020 (Check the above presentation for complete course description details).

ENGL 201C Confronting the Eco-Apocalypse (TR 12:15pm) Sarah Wright (English)

Imagine the streets of NYC transformed into canals... a sea of dunes stretching across the American West... a world where bio-terrorism is a tool for corporate profit. This class will explore these worlds and more in dystopian novels and films including Disney's Wall-E, Kim Stanley Robinson's New York 2140, and Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl. As we explore these hypothetical futures, we will consider how they comment on current environmental, social, and economic choices, and how they imagine future individuals and societies contending with apocalyptic floods, draughts, and genetically-modified organisms. We will also partner with GTECH (gtechstrategies.org) to learn about the steps Pittsburgh is taking toward a more sustainable future, and to help the city take those steps in neighboring communities including the Hill District and Uptown.

SOCI 124C Global Sociology (TR 10:50) Mike Irwin (Sociology)

Global Sociology studies large-scale social processes across the globe and through history. Using this comparative/historical approach, Global Sociology provides an introduction to the social and cultural forces which bind humans together in societies. For this learning community we will focus specifically on how humanity's choices have contributed to extinctions of societies over history and how contemporary societies are struggling to make choices that enhance sustainability. We will pay special attention to societies as human ecosystems, focusing on the ways that societies have adapted to environmental conditions and have changed those conditions. Our main textbook, Human Societies, provides a sociological model of how this occurs. Additionally we'll use Jared Diamond's accounts in Collapse to expand on this model and provides examples of how this process succeeds or fails. Both books focus on the complex interrelationships between societies and the environment over history and on comparisons of societies across the globe.

UCOR 101C Thinking and Writing across the Curriculum (TBD) Nicole Brodsky, English

Thinking and Writing Across the Curriculum is a foundational course which encourages critical thinking, eloquent writing, efficient study skills, and compassionate action. As a course in the TERRA learning community, students will achieve these goals through an exploration of the relationship between composition, rhetoric, literature, and sustainability. By analyzing a range of environmental non-fiction texts, we will become not only better readers but also better writers, ones who consider our own and others' rhetorical situations. When we examine the purpose, context, audience, and style of a piece of writing, we are more able to find our own voices, not only in response to the current challenges our planet faces but across many academic disciplines. In this way, our class will support much of the reading and writing you will do at the university, as we practice asking in-depth questions, developing focused yet profound thesis statements and paragraphs, crafting lively sentences, integrating sources, and revising.


Terra students will build civic values and empathy, intercultural awareness, an appreciation for diversity, and knowledge of our community's needs by working alongside Uptown and Hill District residents at green spaces cultivated by GTECH and the Hill House Association..


Women resident students in TERRA live on 6A or 7C of Towers Living-learning Center, men on 8B of Towers.

Towers is in the lower right-hand corner of the campus map.