RQ: Pollan, Omnivore’s Dilemma, 1-32


Keep the following questions in mind as you read Micheal Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, 1-32. The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.


1.What is the “omnivore’s dilemma,” according to Pollan, and what structures have humans developed to try and solve it?

2. How have some of the solutions to the problem, “what’s for dinner,” created more problems than they have solved?

3. How is eating political and ecological?

Chapter I: The Plant (Corn’s Conquest)

1. Why does Pollan think modern, US grocery stores should astound naturalists (16)?

2. Asking, “what’s for dinner?” provoked Pollan to ask two other questions. What are they?

3. How does Pollan define industrial food?

4. What connection does a steak or plastic bag have with a corn field?

5. Of all the corn based product Pollan lists, which surprised you most and why(18-19)?

6. How can scientists figure out how much corn you have eaten?

7. How does the way corn gathers carbon from the air differ from most other plants?

8. What does Pollan mean when he says, “corn has succeeded in domesticating us” (23)?

9. What does Pollan mean when he says, “corn is the protocapitalist plant” (25)?

10. What is an F-1 Generation? From an economic perspective, what is the appeal of having a plant whose second generation is less productive than its first (31)?




21 June. Campus Sustainability Tour.


Here is some follow-up info. from last class:
  • 1. Thanks for your hard work yesterday: Really nice work yesterday! Thanks for your careful participation and great comments during discussion.
  • 2. Events: For students in the SLS Equity and Sustainability Track, please attend as many events as possible.

    For students in the other tracks or no track, you are welcome to attend the SLS events. SLS events, such as Ryan Gravel’s talk tonight, will provide you with opportunities to take photos and video you can use in your poster and video projects. Events such as tomorrow’s workshop on infrastructure, the reflection workshop (July 24), and the final Showcase (July 25), will help develop your projects.

    Students in the other tracks can talk with me about incorporating the other track activities and your disciplinary interests into your course projects.

    Some Images and Video of the events will be available for you to use in your projects if necessary.

  • 3. Reading: Buy WOVENText in time to complete the reading assignment for Monday. Check out the reading questions for those pages, video drafts can be as rough or complete as choose for Monday’s workshop, and read the Caradonna chapter, which is in Canvas.
  • 4. Office Hours: If you want to meet to discuss the video or have any questions about the course, I am free after class today and Monday.

Campus Sustainability Tour

Before I hand out class over to Ms. Sarah Neville, Sustainability Coordinator at GATech, lets talk for a minute about how the tour fits into our course goals/assignment sequences:
  • 1.The goal of Poster, which is due next Thursday, is to “Illustrate a key concept from one or more of our theoretical readings (Caradonna, Morton, or Sheldon) through a local or national development issue of your choice.” 
  • 2. Jeremy Caradonna, for example, argues that “sustainability” is “a desire to create a society that is safe, stable, prosperous, and ecologically minded,” as well as sets of corrective policies, developments, ideas that are directly tied to counterbalancing climate change (3).
  • 3. So as we walk through campus today, I suggest you take photos and short video of projects on campus that illustrate (or challenge, or complicate) definitions such as those cited above.


  • If you do not want to carry you bags, you can put them in my office and get them afterwards. The classroom doesn’t lock, so I suggest you do not leave them here.
  • Tour Route


Caradonna, Sustainability: A History (1-20)


Keep the following questions in mind as you read Jeremy Caradonna’s Introduction to Sustainability: A History (1-20). The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.

1. How does Coradonna define the term “sustainability?” Are any of the terms that Caradonna uses to define sustainability at odds with one another? Can a society be, for example, both prosperous and ecologically minded? What tools does he suggest, if any, to deal with possible discrepancies?

2. What other movements or terms does “sustainability” subsume?

3. What or who is sustained in by the projects Caradonna sites? In whose interests do we sustain communities and ecosystems?

4. When did “sustainability” first emerge as an “explicit social, environmental, and economic ideal” (1)? What were some early responses to the term?

5. What are the socio/economic conditions under which sustainability and its attendant practices emerged?

6. What forces does “sustainability” seek to counter act?

7. In what ways is “sustainability” necessarily interdisciplinary? What disciplines does the sustainability movement draw upon?

8. Is “sustainability” and endpoint or a process?

9. What is the etymology of the term and how does the history of the word itself help audience make sense of its contemporary applications?

10. What does Caradonna mean when he says, “an ecological point of view” (8)?

11. What sorts of diagrams does Caradonna include? Spend a few minutes looking at the diagram on page 8, what ideas are represented and how do they overlap? How does the diagram of the “three E’s of sustainability” compare to the diagram on the facing page? What does the concentric circle model accomplish that the vendiagram cannot? Which of the two models is more successful and why?

12. Are economic systems both overlapping and independent, or are markets, as Daly argues, “’subsystems within the big biophysical system of ecological interdependence’” (9)?

“The Atlanta Beltline: From Vision to Reality,” June 21, 4:00-5:15

Featured Image: Atlanta BeltLine Passing Through Ardmore Park

Ryan Gravel


Please join us for a talk featuring Ryan Gravel, Sixpitch – whose GT master thesis launched the BeltLine; Odetta MacLeish- White, aTransFormation Alliance; and Michael Bryan, Georgia Tech student and TransFormation Alliance intern

Questions to consider during and after the talk: What choices did the speakers make to engage the audience: narrative, argument, etc.? Did the speakers incorporate multimedia into their presentation? What was the relationship between visual and oral rhetoric?