Political ecology is a community of practice best realized in conversation with others. Through a writing-intensive and research-based approach, this course examines how politics shape our understandings of and interactions with various forms and ideas of nature in geographically diverse contexts. ‘Nature’ is a historically and culturally contingent concept, deployed unevenly for the benefit of some and to the detriment of others. Through researching compelling topics, the course offers a unique lens on discourses and analytical assumptions about human-environment relationships in five major areas including: i) degradation and marginalization, ii) conservation (including its origins, neoliberal practices and related use of social media and technology), iii) environmental conflicts related to extraction, war and militarism, iv) environmental subjects and identities and v) political objects and actors. Specific topics include “forest islands” in Guinea, critical histories of “Smokey Bear,” drones in conservation areas in Mozambique, sex panic in pollution narratives, the politics of “fresh” milk in Vermont and the military uses of avatars and honeybees.
Social Science (SS)
ENVS 001 and ENVS 002 or GEOG 050, 060, 070 or instructor permission