Course Detail
Course Components:
Enrollment Information
Requirement Designation:
Social/Behavioral Science Exploration
Course Attribute:
University Connected Learning
How can we better understand and respond to the complexities of contemporary environmental problems? The course begins to answer that question by examining several key perspectives that shape our understanding of the dynamic interplay between human societies and the environment. A central premise of this course is that every environmental issue is simultaneously a social issue, so if we analyze them separately, we cannot address them well. This course challenges students to cultivate a critical perspective on the relationship between humans from different societies and the non-human world, what we often call ‘the environment.’ We will explore how people conceptualize, interact with, and manage the environment differently, centering issues of equity and global disparities in environmental (in)justice. The first part of the course is dedicated to learning nine key analytical perspectives that serve as our foundation for interpreting environment-society relations. For example, environmental ethics, political economy, race, social construction, and gender are among the conceptual tools that illuminate contemporary environmental issues. The second part of the course transitions toward application, as we examine various objects—trees, French fries, water, e-waste, and uranium—through the analytical frameworks introduced in the first part. Topics span climate change, population and consumption, environmental hazards, governance, environmental racism and justice, conservation, forest management, waste, mining, and more. Our central goal in this course is to develop critical thinking skills and an expanded toolbox with which to interpret and address some of our most pressing environmental problems.