FEATURED COURSES · FALL 2017

Environmental Studies: The Social Perspective

Envir St 112


course image

Mon / Wed + various discussion times
11:00-11:50 AM
3 credits


Fulfills Environmental Studies
Social Science Foundation
UW Designations
Elementary Social Science

Instructor

Samer Alatout
Samer Alatout
Associate Professor of Community and Environmental Sociology and Environmental Studies
Email »

COURSE DESCRIPTION

We now know that environmental problems are fundamentally social problems; they result, at least in part, from human interactions with nature. The ways we organize and conduct ourselves in the economy, in politics, and in our daily lives result in the environmental problems we suffer from and determine the ways we respond to them.

Because of that, the argument goes, we cannot fix the most demanding environmental challenges through science and technology alone. We now recognize that social studies of the environment, including economics, anthropology, sociology, political science, history, and geography, are critical to understanding and solving environmental issues. This course focuses our attention on the social origins of environmental problems, their social impacts, and the different responses they engender.

The class will survey some of the most important environmental problems (e.g., climate change, climate refugees, extreme weather patterns, rising sea levels, population change, and deforestation) and some of the tools needed to analyze, understand, and respond to those problems (e.g., precautionary principle, market-based solutions, political economy, radical democracy, global treaties, and deliberative approaches).

One important focus of the course will be on what we call environmental injustice: the unequal distribution of environmental goods and bads on the local and global levels. In this regard, we will study how these environmental factors are unequally distributed along race, gender, class, and space.


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