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Power, Justice, and the Environment

Professor David N. Pellow
University of California, Santa Barbara

This course introduces students to the theoretical and historical foundations of environmental racism and environmental inequality. We will examine and interrogate both the social scientific evidence concerning these phenomena and the efforts by community residents, activists, workers, and governments to combat it. We will consider the social forces that create environmental inequalities so that we may understand their causes, consequences, and the possibilities for achieving environmental justice. In particular, we pay close attention to the ways in which concepts like nature, race, gender, class, sexuality, citizenship, indigeneity, nation, and species intersect and shape one another in order to better understand how systems of power and inequality are constructed, reinforced, and challenged. Questions we will pursue include: how are relationships with the “natural” world implicated in the way we construct social categories of difference like race, gender, sexuality, class, and species? To what degree is environmental harm linked to social systems and power struggles among humans? How can we link theories of social inequality to theories of environmental studies? How can we imagine and enact change and justice in our lives and in the world in ways that are attentive to hierarchy, inequalities, flows of power, vastly different worldviews, and complexity and contradiction?

To access the complete syllabus, please click on the online version of Power, Justice, and the Environment  syllabus.

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