Social Theory and the Environment

This foundational module in environmental studies introduces students to social theories applicable to socio-ecological problems. It equips students with the theoretical knowledge for social scientific analysis expected in upper-level environmental studies courses and the capstone project. As an interdisciplinary module, students are introduced to concepts and theories in environmental sociology, environmental anthropology, political ecology, and science and technology studies, among others.

Introduction to Environmental Studies

An introduction to the central concerns and dominant analytic and policy approaches of scholars and activists working in the field of environmental studies. Insights from the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities are used to interrogate an array of environmental problems, from climate change and energy technologies to consumerism, the formation of environmental values, and theories of social change. Special emphasis will be placed on issues of regional concern, including waste management, biofuels, escalating energy use, and competing environmental value sets, which will be used to understand and illustrate a distinctive ‘environmental studies’ approach to these challenges.

Agrarian Change and Environmental Transformations

This seminar focuses on changes in agriculture and environment now underway in rural areas around the world. Students are introduced to work of scholars, practitioners and activists focusing on the deepening links among rural poverty, food insecurity, social injustice, environmental degradation, and climate change. Drawing on cases from Asia, Africa, and the Americas, we explore the social, political, economic, cultural and material processes that drive change in agrarian societies and environments. Topics include the Green revolution and its legacies, neoliberalization of agriculture, land grabbing in the 21st century, peasant movements and resistance, and the rise of “alternative” agri-food systems.

Ecological Economics

This course examines the burgeoning inter-and trans-disciplinary field of ecological economics, an area of scholarship that combines knowledge from ecology, physics, philosophy, ethics, behavioral sciences, sociology, anthropology, public policy, economics, among others. We explore the theoretical, philosophical and methodological foundations of ecological economics vis-à-vis “neoclassical” or “mainstream”economics, and examine the implications for environmental policy and social action.

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