Environmental Justice, Politics, and Humanities (JPH)

Course Description: 

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.

Learning Outcomes: 

With the successful completion of this course, students will:

  1. acquire theoretical and conceptual tools for thinking critically about and navigating the complexity of environmental issues through the notions of power and discourse, science and knowledge, the relationship between nature and culture, and social and environmental justice;
  2. learn to critically analyze environmental conflicts and decision-making and social movement strategies through a broader cultural and political lens;
  3. engage the complexity of perspectives, politics, and power dynamics that influence outcomes, and have implications for promoting a world that is more sustainable and socially just; and
  4. reflect on their own development as environmental leaders and/or advocates, and be able to articulate, experience, and present the complexity of environmental problems in creative and engaging ways.
Assessment: 

1. Attendance, preparation for and participation in weekly class discusisons of assigned materials (10%- detailed requirements to be outlined in full syllabus and discussed in class)

2. Case study analysis and game design, including:

- Case study mind map and outline, conducted with a group, to identify the main actors and social processes interacting in a particular environmental case addressing an environmental issue or conflict (15%)

- Individual short paper that applies a particular theoretical framework to analyze the case  (20%)

- Group design of interactive game through which to demonstrate the interconnectedness of social, environmental, and political problems in your case an interactive and experiential way (30%)

3. Student conference presentation & abstract  (25%)