Soils and Civilization class set for the fall semester

A “Soils and Civilization” class will be offered this fall focusing on the linkages between the management and care of soil resources and the rise and fall of past and current civilizations.

The class, PLSC 167, is taught by Jeff Fuhrmann, professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, who explained that he believes that there needs to be a “greater awareness of the pivotal role of soils in sustaining societies including our own.”

Fuhrmann said that many past civilizations have collapsed in large part because they abused soil and that abuse continues today around the globe.

“Rates of soil degradation far exceed the rates at which soils are formed as the latter often takes thousands of years,” said Fuhrmann. “The essential point here is that soil resources are non-renewable on a human time scale. Soils form the basis of nearly all food production, a fact that becomes increasingly important as Earth’s population continues to expand. How soils are managed also affects water resources and has the potential to modify climate change.”

In the past, Fuhrmann said, people who destroyed their soil resources were simply able to move on to other pristine lands to support themselves, but in our current, modern society, that is no longer a feasible option as most suitable land has already been brought into production.

The class will meet on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays from 2:30-3:20 p.m. in the fall.