How do politics shape our understandings of, and interactions with nature? This course focuses on theoretical debates that underlie political ecological thinking and explore concrete environmental practices and justice struggles in various regions of the world. First, the course presents the basics of the origins of the diverse field of scholarship and community of practice that constitute political ecology, focusing on key critiques of problematic concepts such as the ‘Third World’ and ecoscarcity. The course maps some of the most influential texts and ideas that characterize different periods of debate in political ecology, and draws from rich case studies within and beyond the United States that address five major areas of critique in political ecology. Lectures and discussions devote significant time to understanding strategies, discourses and analytical assumptions in different forms of writing about human-environment relationships. Specific topics include “forest islands” in Guinea, lawns in the US, critical histories of “Smokey Bear” in the southwestern US and of King Leopold II in the colonial era of the former Belgian Congo, drones in conservation areas in Mozambique and “fresh” milk in Vermont, US. Pre/co-requisites: GEOG 050, 060 or 070. ENVS Majors without the geography pre-requisites should have completed ENVS 001 AND ENVS 002 before taking this class. Cross listed with GEOG 173 for a total combined enrollment of 40.
Social Science (SS)
GEOG 050 or 070 or instructor permission