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

Population: The World at Seven Billion; nightmare of an impoverished planet or a dream of progress?

core three surges graphic

Anchored in two related meanings:

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


We actually begin with a "core" reading by Jonathan Swift. We use "A Modest Proposal", his essay, to

Clarify | Organize | Reflect | Examine

the subjects of demography, ecology, and society in a text-based way.




Current world population.

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

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.

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 specific countries that are pre-selected for study.

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.

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.

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, & Bill McKibben, and Siry's e-book 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.


At the midterm explain to the class verbally and describe in writing 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 and the rate of increase

    2. density and the arable land per capita

    3. per capita income (GNI PPP)

      1. income inequality

    4. fertility rate

    5. mortality rate

    6. natural increase or the natural rate of increase

    7. Total fertility rate

    8. contraceptive use

      1. conventional

      2. modern means

    9. life expectancy

      1. men's

      2. women's

      3. gender longevity differences if any.

    10. infant mortality rate

    11. carbon dioxide emissions

    12. electricity or energy use per capita

    13. literacy rates

    14. Net migration

    15. Percent urban

    16. percent usage of improved sanitation

Population Reference Bureau and World Bank data are both available on line


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.

examine & evaluate Reflect organize clarify



For the first three to four weeks the course is targeted on clarifying your understanding of a focus story (week one) 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, Malthus, & Swift.

Weeks in further detail.

Clarify, Organize, Reflect, Examine = CORE


First week: How does what we think about population shape our expectations?


Fourth week: How people use demography as a systematic study to determine population characteristics: The Great Population Debate.
Fifth week: Fertility as the reason populations grow as they do?
Sixth week:
Reports on your data sets and nations. Think about and describe what sort of limitations on family size exist according to McKibben.

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? Garrett Hardin: 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, a 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.

The Crucial Value of Ecology In Your Education.

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.



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
per capita
per capita income
density dependent disease

What is human population's and consumption's impacts on people based on all of the authors when compared and contrasted with the data you collected in the 12 or more nations selected? }

final essay: minimally 8 pages excluding the footnotes, or endnotes and bibliography; with a data table, bullet points, and summary

A summary of which you post to wiki { You verbally explain your research & analysis findings at the final exam.

You verbally present that summary at the final exam hour to the class.     

The final exam is a post-test and a four minute verbal presentation of the essay's summary findings presented to the class. The 8 page essay is redrafted and due then on that day.   

12/9,      Tuesday,  Final Exam 2-4 PM. You stay for the entire 2 hours.

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.