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[[ c:\z\ Teaching\new courses\EnvSocietyPolitics.rtf ]]
ENVIRONMENT, SOCIETY, POLITICS [Course Title]
Devised by Robert Williams [Professor]
Thematic goals of course:
Interdependent world, but different societies and different perceptions/conceptions of
environments exist. (Alternate title: 'Environments, Societies, World' which implies: Multiple
environments (not just THE environment), multiple societies (incl. w/in one country), but so far
only one world on which we all live.)
Contending, even conflicting definitions of THE environment exist. Groups struggle to put
their interpretaion on the political agenda.
(E.g., Wise Use movement advocates free market principles instead of regulations).
(E.g., environmentalism is not simply or only about nature--as the env'l justice movement has
(E.g. Are rural environments and urban environments the same? Of course, there are 'flows'
between them (no rigid boundary separates them: pollution as an example). However, different ac
tors, different constraints on pactions exist in different environments).
Different mixes of social organizations and different ways that a country is incorporated
into the world capitalist economy.
Assumption of human agency within wider structures posing opportunities and also
constraints on human actions.
Global processes of env'l problems have localized expressions, and local actions contribute
to the wider scale (regional or global) consequences.
Critical thinking skills;
Computer skills; [[ see also Teaching World Politics book on p. 131.]]
Put syllabus on-line (with details for each session on the web site).
Use a mixture of class room lectures/discussions and internet lab sessions (with results
perhaps discussed and debriefed in classroom setting).
Graded assigments: Series of sjhort data/information gathering and analysis, which areto
be incorporated into a larger, semester project.
NOTE: Administer a questionnaire of student's env'l views: administered at start of semester (and
then at end of semester to see if views have changed)
-A Nature and Scope of Env'l Concerns
--1. natural laws [1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics---Schnaiberg & Gould book; Alvater
chapter in Is Capitalism Sustainable? ]
--2. Scale of env'l problems [ Kasperson essay in Reordering the World ]
--3. Naural laws exist outside of humans control, but the result are not outside of human
[Francis Bacon: to know nature you must control nature ]
Natural laws existed before humans,, yet how they exert impacts depends on societal
Moreover, nature, conceived as unsullied and distinct from humans does not exist in world.
-B. Paradigms of the environment(s)
--1. value of nature
--2. normative concerns of ethics and justice
---a. utilitarian (markets) [Wise Use movement; property rights groups]
---b. deontological (innate value; traced to Kant)
[[ See questions to pose in Teaching Global Development book, p. 18 ]]
-C. Consequences of env'l problems
--1. to world / regions / countires / intra-country regions
(Maldives letter in Capitalism, Nature, Socialism)
--2. to specific groups within a country [ to stress the differential impacts of env'l problems ]
-D. History of environmental problems
--1. humans role across time and space
--2. Sumer's collaps in 2000 bce; Mayans collapse in 800 ad; easter island
--3. films: Rapa Nui
-E. Explnations of causes of env'l problems (many possible)
[[ rww's schema/typology reflects one particular viewpoint ]]
--1. Immediate causes
---a. Ehrlichs's I = P * A * T
How can it be implemented as policy?
Weaknesses of formula
[ Fosters' Vulnerable Planet book; Kasperson chapter (esp. pp. 161-3) in Reordering the
World book. Also see Julian Simon ]
--2. Structural causes
---a. What drives population growth, affluence, technology? Are such factors independent of
society? Various structural factors:
----i. Cultural factors: traditional values/beliefs --> population growth --> affects affluence
----ii. industrialization in general --> affluence
--> technology [[ possible interrelated (yet distinct) assumptions:
technological determinism or technology as autonomous ]]
----iii. capitalism: production for profit
---b. structural causes also imply that structural constraints exist on actions to ameliorate env'l
-F. Policy Analysis Paper
--1. Background reading:
[See Weisband chapter in Teaching Global Dev book (p. 231) for an outline of a student
policy analysis project.]
--2. Scope of Policy Analysis Paper:
For a particular country
If a particular problem were chosen, it could be analyzed in terms of how it affects
different states/regions and how it could be ameliorated.
Students write a final project of the semester designed to incorporate various themes of the
Students can gain computer experience with online resources.
Perhaps have students turn in a series of short papers on varius aspects/topics of a
particular country, all as building blocks to the final project.
Choose countries with internet presence (official and unoffical) so that students gain
experience with computer data sources.
Could be a project for each individual student or perhaps as a team project with different
students working on different portions.
--5. Content of the paper
---a. The nature and scope of an env'l problem for a particular country
----i. Relate the larger scale env'l problem to the particular country. Causation
----ii. Does that country contribute to the larger scale env'l problem?
----iii. What are the impacts of the env'l problem on that particular country?
---b. How does that country view the problem?
----i. official government reaction?
----ii. public opinion?
----iii. opinion of groups like businesses, unions, other organizations?
---c. Actors involved [ Mofson chapter in Reordering the World book; Switzer book ]
----i. types of actors: political/official, societal; international
----ii. strengths and weakness of actors
---d. Political system
----i. type of political system
----ii. avenues open to citizens into polity ans policy making arenas
---e. Policy options
----i. previous policies (incl. extant treaties, aggreements, etc.)
----ii. possible policy options: nationally, internationally
[[ e.g. sustainable development . Also see Choices for the 21st Century book for range of
----iii. evaluate (strengths, weakness, constraints on actions)
-----a) Structural constraints on policy to ameiorate problems
-----b) explanations imply actors and societal relationships that are responsible (domestic
constraints, international constraints)
----iv. Paper author is to make recommendations
NOTE: At the end of the semester administer the previously used questionnaire to students.