Oil and Water: The Gulf Oil Spill of 2010 was developed and taught by Robert Gilmer. It was offered during the Fall semester of 2010 at the University of Minnesota.
By exploring the history and ecology of oil drilling in the Gulf, this course will raise questions about the economic, environmental, and social impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on communities throughout the Gulf region.
- If oil drilling is so potentially dangerous to the region, why do many local politicians and citizens demand that it continue?
- While the oil spill has wreaked havoc on the local fishing industry, can it survive without offshore drilling?
- What lessons can we learn from past spills about the environmental and economic impacts facing the Gulf region?
- Who is ultimately responsible for the spill, and who is liable for the costs associated with cleanup, restoration, and economic damages?
- Do laws such as the Oil Protection Act of 1990, which were intended to hold oil companies responsible for the effects of spills, actually empower them over the government when large-scale spills do occur?
This course explores not only the technical and scientific issues involved in the Gulf Oil Spill, but also its ethical and societal implications.
Through class readings, discussions, assignments, and guest speakers, we will approach the Gulf Oil Spill from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, such as law, economics, history, engineering, and conservation biology. This interdisciplinary approach will not only provide a fuller understanding of the complex issues involved in the spill, but it will also develop a skill set for dealing with future conflicts over the effects of technology on our changing societies and environments.
ACTIVITY DESCRIPTION AND TEACHING MATERIALS
Includes grading policy, assignments, weekly schedule, and readings.
REFERENCES AND RESOURCES
Required Text: Mike Tidwell, Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana’s Cajun Coast, (Vintage Books: NY, NY, 2003).
There is only one assigned book for the class, but students will be required to read a variety of academic journal articles, excerpts from both scholarly and popular books, and numerous media accounts related to the Spill. Links to many resources to be used throughout the course are included in the syllabus.
- Justin Gillis and Leslie Kaufman, “After Oil Spills, Hidden Damage Can Last for Years,” NYT, 7/17/10
- “Government Says More Than 23k Workers affected by Gulf of Mexico Drilling Ban,” Star Tribune, 8/21/10
- Susan Saulny, “Cajuns on Gulf Worry they May Need to Move Again,” NYT, 7/18/10
This course was featured on the front page of the Star Tribune on June 24. The story profiling the course offering, instructor Robert Gilmer, and the IAS and its director, Prof. Ann Waltner, is also featured on CNN.com's "Intriguing People" blog, on HuffingtonPost.com, the website of the Washington Post, and in the June 23 edition of The Minnesota Daily.
Developed by Robert Gilmer of the University of Minnesota, this course will raise questions about the economic, environmental, and social impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on communities throughout the Gulf region by exploring the history and ecology of oil drilling in the Gulf. This course explores not only the technical and scientific issues involved in the Gulf Oil Spill, but also its ethical and societal implications.