Thursday, April 14, 2011

Oil: A World in Short Supply

Have you heard about the Minerva course "Oil: A World in Short Supply"?

Each year the College offers an interdisciplinary course open to all students that focuses on a single topic and is taught by a variety of professors. Known as the Minerva Course, this spring’s course is entitled “Oil: A World in Short Supply.” Past topics have included presidential elections, food, technology and society, and globalization.
The 10-week course also includes lectures by accomplished guests. The lectures are free and open to the public.

On Monday April 11 we heard from historian and sociologist Robin BlackburnProfessor Blackburn is a professor of sociology at Essex University in the UK and a distinguished visiting professor of historical studies at The New School, NYC. His talk was entitled “Sweet Power: Global Powers and the Premium Commodity from Sugar to Oil”. 
He spoke about how the Civil War was fought over commodities like cotton and tobacco.Blackburn talked about slavery and the establishment of the slave trade in England, Africa, and the United States. He talked about cotton and sugar and how England came to treasure these commodities. He discussed how slavery developed in the U.S. as the most efficient way of harvesting a large volume of crops from the land. He talked about how this single commodity use spurred war in the U.S.
However it is this blogger's opinion that Blackburn discussed slavery in too great of detail. Oil was not a major topic of his discussion. Students were hoping for more on the subject, but instead got a history lesson. That being said this blogger understands that he is a historian, but he is a sociologist as well. He could have definitely spiced up the lecture with some aspects from sociology. Maybe we could have heard about other wars that were fought over commodities. While Blackburn was definitely knowledgeable in his area of study, hopefully the next speaker will not focus so much on the past
So come and check out the speakers!

On Wednesday, May 4 at 7 p.m. in the Nott come hear Riki Ott, marine biologist, author and former commercial fisherwoman. She will be talking about “Exxon Valdez to Gulf Disaster: Changing the Endgame”.

On Wednesday, May 11 at 7 p.m. in Olin 115 come listen to Michael Klare, journalist and political science professor. He will be discussing “The Perils of Extreme Oil: Extractive Strategies in the Twilight Era of Petroleum".

On Monday, May 16 at 7 p.m. in the Nott come hear Tariq Ali, British writer, filmmaker, political analyst and historian. His talk will be about “The Oil Wars and World Politics.” 

On Wednesday, May 25 at 7 p.m. in the Nott come listen to Mia Birk who is an urban planner. She will be discussing “Pedaling toward a Healthier Planet”.

See you there!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the writeup. I was sad to have missed the lecture but reading your review of it I'm not so sad.
    -Jay Walker
    RPI '12