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 SSC 243 - Environment and Society

C​ontent ​


One of the most salient and hotly debated issues of our times relates to the theme of environmental crisis, a public focus that includes concerns about global warming, atmospheric pollution, deforestation, natural resource depletion, and a rapid decline in biodiversity.  At the same time, various actors offer different and often conflicting analyses, interpretations, conclusions and recommendations for a way forward.  This course examines these complex themes by paying special attention to the relationship between humans and what we commonly think of as the ‘natural’ world. 

The main aim of this course is to help students reflect on the relationship between humans and the so-called natural world, our environment.  The course forces students to confront ‘the environment’ as much more than simply an object – i.e. as existing outside of, and separate from, the human world; as something that can be classified, charted and objectively described.  Rather, human relationships with the environment are mutually shaped and shaping; they are time and place-specific, and highly political. 

In this respect, students will explore four related aspects of this multifaceted relationship.  In the first part of the course, we focus on the ways humans have historically imagined nature and the environment.  What is ‘nature’ and how are ‘nature’ and culture interrelated? In part two, we turn our attention toward the ways environments and people have mutually shaped one another through time, then follow with a consideration of the history of environmentalism.  In part three, we consider contemporary environmental movements including radical environmentalism, environmental justice, eco-feminism, and deep ecology, as well as the anti-environmentalist movement.   Finally, we complete the course with a discussion of our attempts to create a more sustainable future for humans living within and in relation to the environment.  Here, we consider issues such as climate change, eco-tourism and green living.



Human Geography


One of the following  is required in order to take this course:

  • SSC 141 Introduction to Human Geography
  • SSC 111 Introduction to Sociology
  • SSC 131 Introduction to Socio-Cultural Anthropology
  • SSC 151 Introduction to Political Theory
  • SSC 241 Urban Geography
  • SSC 341 Power and Space
  • SSC 343 Sustainable Development
  • Or by permission from the instructor