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Fall 2020 Class Schedule

fall 2020 class Schedule

Course Title Instructor Day/Time
ENVR_POL 212 Environment and Society Thistle TTH 11:20-12:40
ENVR_POL 336 The Climate Crisis, Policies and Society Thistle TTH 2:40-4:00
ENVR_POL 390-21 Political Ecology Rosenzweig MW 11:20-12:40
ENVR_POL 390-22 U.S. Environmental Politics Suiseeya TTH 2:40-4:00
ENVR_POL 390-24 Media, Earth and Making a Difference Taylor F 2:00-4:00
ENVR_POL 390-25 Politics of Disaster: A Global Environmental History Barnett TTH 11:20-12:40
ENVR_POL 390-26 Nature and Empire Barnett TTH 4:20- 5:40
ENVR_POL 390-27 Native American Environmental Issues and the Media Loew TTH 10:30-12:20
ENVR_POL 390-28 Environmental Cultures of East Asia Byrnes

TTH 2:40-4:00


fall 2020 course descriptions

COURSE 212: Environment and Society

Overview of the interactions between societies and the natural environment. Examines both key environmental problems, like climate change and oil spills, and possible solutions, and the roles played by different social structures and groups in shaping both issues.

COURSE  336: The Climate Crisis, Policies and Society

Climate change is the worst environmental problem facing the earth. Sea levels will rise, glaciers are vanishing, horrific storms will hit everywhere. After looking briefly at the impacts of climate change on natural and social environments both in the present and near future, we then consider how to best reduce climate change and how to adapt to its impacts. Issues of climate justice, divides between the global North and South, social movements, steps taken in different countries and internationally, and the role of market and regulations are addressed.  

COURSE 390-21 Special Topics: Political Ecology

This class is an introduction to Political Ecology, a multidisciplinary body of theory and research that analyzes the environmental articulations of political, economic, and social difference and inequality. The key concepts, debates, and approaches in this field address two main questions: (1) How do humans' interactions with the environment shape power and politics? (2) How do power and politics shape humans' interactions with the environment? These questions are critical to understanding and addressing the current issues of climate change, the Anthropocene, and environmental justice. Topics discussed in this class will include environmental scarcity and degradation, sustainability and conservation. Readings will come from the disciplines of geography, anthropology and archaeology. Case studies will range from the ancient, to the historical and the present-day. No prior background in the environmental sciences is needed to appreciate and engage in this course.

COURSE 390-22 Special Topics: U.S. Environmental Politics

Political problems associated with human impact on natural environment; pollution, natural resources, public lands, land use, energy, and population.

COURSE 390-24 Special Topics: Media, Earth and Making a Difference

The central question of this course is: What Makes a Difference? Analyzing a variety of works of media addressing environmental themes, including works drawn from advertising and marketing, we will consider different types of environmental messaging and attempts to mobilize public moral engagement. Specifically, we will be looking at strategies for implementing media interventions as moral interventions. Discussion taken up in this class will include evaluating the comparative value of media messaging that emphasizes individual action and personal responsibility, versus messaging that promotes collective action, policy, and structural changes. Students will consider and debate what constitutes authentic "green" messaging versus mere corporate "greenwashing." Throughout, we will ask what kind of media we need in what has been called the "Anthropocene" (a time when humans are now a major geologic force affecting the future of the planet). When motivating public moral engagement in climate crisis, are the solutions being offered those that the planet will actually "register" or "notice" on a global scale? If not, what kinds of "media interventions" do we need to be making and how?

COURSE 390-25 Special Topics: Politics of Disaster: A Global Environmental History

The term ‘natural disaster' conjures images of tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, and other powerful forces of nature that strike without warning, inflicting massive suffering on a powerless and unsuspecting populace. We now have several decades' worth of research from the social sciences and humanities showing that so-called "natural" disasters are not very natural at all. Instead, they are deeply political and profoundly man-made. This course adopts a historical and global approach in order to denaturalize disaster. From famines in British India to earthquakes in post-colonial Peru, from floods in New Orleans to nuclear disaster in Japan, we will see how disasters expose and exacerbate pre-existing inequalities, inflicting suffering disproportionately among those groups already marginalized by race, class, gender, geography, and age. These inequalities shape not only the impact of the disaster but the range of responses to it, including political critique and retrenchment, relief and rebuilding efforts, memorialization, and planning - or failing to plan - for future disasters of a similar kind. The course culminates in a unit on the contemporary challenge of anthropogenic global climate change, the ultimate man-made disaster. We will consider how memories, fears, and fantasies of past disasters are being repurposed to create new visions of what climate change will look like. 

COURSE 390-26 Special Topics: Nature and Empire

The arrival of European colonizing powers in the Americas in the wake of Columbus's voyages marked a new and often disastrous chapter in global environmental history. American nations and environments shaped the course of European colonial settlement at the same time as colonial expansion profoundly changed the flora, fauna, disease ecology, and patterns of labor and land use prevailing across the Americas. This seminar explores the entangled histories of imperial and environmental history in the colonial Atlantic world. Topics will include the so-called Columbian Exchange and the dispossession of indigenous lands; the transatlantic slave trade and the rise of the plantation system; the intersections of African, European, and Indigenous American agricultural practices; European theories of race and climate; colonial bioprospecting; and the role of disease in the Age of Atlantic Revolutions. We will also consider the imperial origins of modern conservationism and of key environmental concepts such as ‘wilderness’ and 'native' and 'invasive' species.

COURSE 390-27 Special Topics: Native American Environmental Issues and the Media

Native American Environmental Issues and the Media introduces students to indigenous issues, such as treaty-based hunting, fishing, and gathering rights; air and water quality issues; mining; land-to-trust issues; and sacred sites. These issues have contributed to tension between Native and non-Native communities and have become the subject of news reports, in both mainstream and tribal media. We will focus on how the media cover these issues and how that coverage contributes to the formation of public opinion and public policy. Students will read and analyze newspaper and on-line news reports and view and critique broadcast news stories and documentaries about Native environmental topics. 

COURSE 390-28 Special Topics: Environmental Cultures of East Asia

This course is dedicated to the study of environment and culture in east Asia, particularly in China. China is often imagined both as a site of localized environmental ruination that prefigures imminent global collapse and as a source of contamination and contagion that easily cross national borders. Particularly in the Global North, China has become a focal point for ambient eco-anxieties that are shadowed by longer histories of perceived racial, cultural, and economic threats. It is easy (and essential) to critique the demonization of China; the challenge lies in disentangling the imagined from the very real and present dangers that country’s environmental and public health problems pose at home and abroad. This course confronts that challenge by approaching our current environmental crises not as scientific issues with technological solutions, but as crises of culture and urgent objects of representation. How we imagine and depict our uncertain future has a direct impact on how we act in the present.

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