Promoting a more sustainable world is interwoven within a power dynamic that is characterized by key questions regarding science and knowledge, nature and culture, environmental justice, and advocacy. This course explores that dynamic, and investigates the political and cultural basis of environmentalism and its manifestations.
The course interweaves two mutually reinforcing learning threads. One thread will introduce students to various theoretical perspectives for analyzing environmental and social issues, and explore how they are applied to various case studies. Each of the case studies will examine how the environment and environmental and social justice are defined from a scientific standpoint as well as in culturally specific ways by communities, activists, social movements, governments, and private sector actors enmeshed in dynamic power relationships.
Another thread will be devoted to learning about complex social and environmental problems through the analysis, design, and implementation of interactive activities (role plays, board games). Students will analyze a case in their papers and design activities through which to explain the interconnectedness of social, environmental, and political problems in an interactive and experiential way. In order to prepare for the interactive exercise, special attention will be given throughout the course to the conflicting and intersecting perspectives of different groups and stakeholders.