University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Oil and Water: The Gulf Oil Spill of 2010, Fall 2010

CFAN 3480, Section 4, 3 credits
M 4:05-4:55 & W 4:05-6:00
Location: B25 Classroom Office Building, St Paul Campus
Instructor: Robert Gilmer (, History

Sponsored by the Institute for Advanced Study and the College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Science.

Course Description

In the wake of one of the largest environmental disasters in United States history, this course explores the many problems and paradoxes associated with the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

This course meets the Technology and Society Liberal Education requirement by exploring 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 give you a fuller understanding of the complex issues involved in the spill, but will also provide you with a skill set for dealing with future conflicts over the effects of technology on our changing societies and environments.

Recorded Classes and Guest Lecturers

September 13, Gulf History and Ecology

September 15

September 20, Oil Spills and Regulation

September 22, Zygmunt Plater, former chair of Alaska’s Legal Task Force following the Exxon Valdez disaster


Question and Answer

September 29, Windmills Not Oil Spills: Turning the Tide on America’s Energy Future
Mike Tidwell is author of Bayou Farewell and founder and director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.


October 4, The Politics of Oil


October 6, Juliet Schor, Plenitude

Download: audio, small video, or original.


Download: audio, small video, or original.

See also: Schor’s Bat of Minerva interview.

October 25, Containing the Spill

October 27, Justin Revenaugh

Guest lecture by Justin Revenaugh, a seismologist and professor of Geology at the University of Minnesota

November 1, The Media, Katrina, and International Perspectives

Powerpoint only:

November 8, Economic Effects: Tourism, Fishing, and the Moratorium

November 15, The Clean Up

November 22, Reconstructing the Gulf, Part 1

November 29, Reconstructing the Gulf, Part 2

December 1, Don Davis
Don Davis is Director Emeritus of the Sea Grant Program at LSU and administrator for the Louisiana Applied and Educational Oil Spill Research and Development Program

December 6, Barry Lehrman
Barry Lehrman, Lecturer, Landscape Architecture, University of Minnesota

More Information

The 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’s “Intriguing People” blog, on, the website of the Washington Post, and in the June 23 edition of The Minnesota Daily.

To find out more about the course and its background, view or download the Bat of Minerva discussion with Rob Gilmer or read this interview by IAS graduate assistant Amir Hussain: oil and water article.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Related Posts

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *