teach or learn


The above links relate to the reading to be completed before the class starts for those weeks of the course; the first week through the fourteenth week.


The links below are to pages on this website that can direct you through material to improve your writing, recall, understanding analysis of crucial concepts.















Using spreadsheets, a google tip:

index card

Olin Library


overview | weeks | related pages | what is | animations | concepts | course title | wiki-based | story

Family size and Population: The World at Seven Billion; nightmare of impoverished planet or dream of progress?

Bill McKibben, Maybe One


"Americans’ lifestyles are just so "big." During the next decade India and China will each add to the planet about ten times as many people as the U.S., but the stress on the natural world by those new Americans may exceed that from the new Indians and Chinese combined. "

Anchored in two related meanings:


Core refers to the four steps we take we had used to move through the course


Clarify: "lifestyles are just so 'big'."

Organize: contrast – "India and China will each add to the planet about ten times as many people"

Reflect: compare – "the stress on the natural world by those new Americans may exceed that from the new Indians and Chinese combined"

Evaluate: ___________________________________________.

Bill McKibben, Maybe One: The Case for Smaller Families. New York: Plume (Penguin), 1999-98.


We actually end this course with an "evaluation & examination" of two readings by Garret Hardin and Bill McKibben to anchor your understanding on to a focus of comparing and contrasting Malthus and Sangar who after Jonathan Swift, engaged in what we termed "The Great Population Debate." This refers to either A) there are too many people or B) there are some too many consuming too much?

One valuable source of information for at least the United States that may resolve this question for you is teh Stephen J. Rose data on social stratification. Have you reviewed that?

Clarify | Organize | Reflect | Examine

You are judged on how well you use evidence logically to connect the subjects of demography, ecology and society in a text-based way.




What was the world population when we began? __________

What is Current world population. _______________

check it Use the Wiki for this class: The World at 7 Billion.


At the midterm on September 30th each students explained to the class verbally and describde in writing the rationale for their selecting a dozen (or more nations) to track some or all of the following:

  1. Select a dozen or more nations to study by gathering data on each to compare.
  2. From the world population data sheet and world bank tables track and record the following types of data for each nation on your list:
    1. population
    2. density
    3. per capita income
    4. fertility rate
    5. mortality rate
    6. Total fertility rate
    7. contraceptive use
    8. life expectancy
    9. infant mortality rate
    10. carbon dioxide emissions
    11. electricity or energy use per capita

3. Write an essay of sufficient length to cover a description and an analysis. Start by describing these above findings and analyzing what the data reveal about the challenges facing these nations with respect to demographic and economic trends currently supported by the data.

The final exam essay flips this initial reliance on data driven interpretations into a demographic analysis of the authors ideas based on your partcular nations to answer the above question with sufficient evidence to support your arguments for or against what the authors have been telling you.

examine & evaluate Reflect organize clarify




canUsing population profiles to see changes

A history of population change

What's behind the arguments? with Dr. Joel Cohen

Population formula

Impact formula

Ecological Footprint

fertility or natality
mortality as opposed to morbidity
total fertility rate
infant mortality rate
life expectancy
population pyramids
social stratification
density dependent disease

Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War Book II; Chapter 7, an account of the plague of Athens. MIT classics.
Urbanization in Europe.
A world wide database of user contributed facts.


A learning objective for these weekly readings is for participants to examine by asking questions, writing and posting to the internet their responses to: the several ways interpret population and to define each of the contributing parts of the population equation:

P = Fertility – Mortality (+ or – Migration)

immigration is +

emmigration is –


Active participants will analyze and define explicit examples of five to ten different outcomes of the "impact equation" that have altered economic, social, or political relations in those specific countries that you pre-selected for study:

I = P * A * T

Impact is equal to Population X Affluence X Technology.




Weeks in further detail.

Clarify, Organize, Reflect, Examine = CORE


First week: How does what we think about population shape our expectations? Geography & Numbers in defining demography.

For the first three to four weeks the course is targeted on clarifying your understanding of a focus story consists of translating and comparing Swift's reasons (week two), contrasting Swift's and Malthus stories on the origins of enduring population predicaments. By this week (week three) you should have picked a dozen nations to test out these two men's opinions and by the next week (week four), verbally and in writing summarize evidence found from the data sheets in contrast to the beliefs of three different authors: Siry, Swift, & Malthus.

Second week: defining what population is doing to us all.

After the second week active participants should have selected a dozen or more nations based on a definable rationale that is made explicit to the class verbally and in writing.

For example only see this table & chart.

Third week: Counting heads and enumerating the despotic demands of more and more people.

After the third week active participants should describe to the class verbally and in writing preliminary data on the size, growth rate, family size and per capita economic data on their selected nations.


Fourth week: How people use demography as a systematic study to determine population characteristics: The Great Population Debate.

After week four students should be capable of using the several assigned readings and texts to describe verbally and in writing the examples of the arguments made by Thomas Malthus, Margaret Sangar, Bill McKibben, and Garrett Hardin concerning demographic change including different fertility measures three facets of density and how contraception is or is not a form of population control with deep influences on human conduct or behavior.

Fifth week: Fertility as the reason populations grow as they do, but what is the best measure of birth rates?

Report on your nations.
Sixth week:
Reports on your data sets and nations. Think about what sort of limitations on family size exist.

October 11-14 Fall Break, no class.


Seventh week: Margaret Sangar & public health in addressing the synergy of mechanisms that act as a means of decreasing populations; the examples from China.

migration• Eight-Ninth weeks - reports: The roles of migration, dynamics and density in creating a population profile.

• Tenth week Was it too many people or too few resources that sparked these migrations? Understanding Hardin's perspectives.

Europe's urban growth rates as examples of growth rates, density and migration.

Evaluate & Examine

Eleventh week: The new industrialism and the power of synergy among emergent properties affecting density, labor, family size, income, and rents.

Twelfth week: Three revolutions driving the present conditions as revealed by comparing the Human development index, HDI, with the Physical quality of life index, PQLI, and the social progress index among other competing measures of socioeconomic transformation.

Thirteenth & fourteenth weeks: What did you learn and how does gender matter? A look at India again in the light of Hardin's & McKibben's arguments by the class reporting on their nations in relation to these arguments concerning population & consumption.

Extraordinary Outcomes for student performance

Students will be able to describe verbally and in writing the defining characteristics of the different examples of organization of concepts for population, land, labor, and wealth as these are influenced by demographic change.

Students will verbally and in writing list and describe factors that are identified as demographic data to explain economic conceptions, such as development theory, the demographic transition theory, "laissez faire," monopoly as opposed to socialism, & social stratification.

Engaged participants will demonstrate in writing and verbally data sets to analyze specific demographic conditions that respond to impacts from the economy such as the cyclical periods of depression and recessions on family formation, mortality rates, fertility, and per capita income measures and other social arrangements.