Special Area

The Turbulent Earth

From the Trojan Horse to the modern drone, from ninjas to the KGB: join us in exploring the history of spies, information gathering, and covert operations. We'll debate when (if ever) such operations, including industrial espionage and state-sponsored assassinations, are ever justified, and to what extent they have shaped the course of history. From the Crusades to the making of the atom bomb, spies and the organizations that supported them were often unseen, but never unimportant. We'll also sneak forward to the present day to consider the modern surveillance society, in which information gathering has come out of the shadows and even into the skies above us. To what extent should our daily activities, on the Internet and in real life, be tracked and cataloged—by whom, and to what end? And, yes, we'll spend a little time on the likes of James Bond—because fiction can be a useful tool for understanding how people perceive fact.

  1. Questions to Pose: An Uneasy Planet

    • What causes the natural movements of the Earth?
    • What causes the unnatural movements of the Earth?
    • When do such movements become disasters?
    • How do different societies respond differently to disasters?
    • What can be predicted? What can be managed?
  1. The Earth Beneath Our Feet

    • Erosion and the Face of the World
    • Physical Structure and Plate Tectonics
    • Earthquakes and Tsunamis
    • Volcanoes and Volcanic Landforms
  1. Disruptions of the Atmosphere

    • Hurricanes and Typhoons
    • Cyclones and Tornadoes
    • Droughts and Desertification
    • Sources and Impacts of Particulate Matter
  1. World of the Future

    • Causes and Consequences of Climate Change
    • Toward a New Mastery of the Earth