Sociology | Social Problems & Policies
S101 | 23257 | Bartley

Topic:  Sociology of Environment

What impact has the rise of giant corporations had on the environment
here and around the world?  Can environmental movements stem the tide
of environment degradation?  What is environmental racism and what can
be done about it?  What are the governments doing (or not doing) about
global climate change, deforestation, and pollution?  Why do we
recycle?  Is it possible to build communities and social systems that
are ecologically “sustainable?”  What are the links between
globalization and environmental protection?  What is “nature” anyhow?

These are just a few of the questions that can be addressed by taking
a sociological perspective on the natural environment.  Often, the
natural and social dimensions of human life are assumed to be
disconnected opposites.  In contrast, this course emphasizes the links
between environmental conditions and the social formations and
practices that underlay them.  It will examine the organizational,
political. and institutional conditions that produce environmental
degradation, as well as the conditions that allow for positive
environmental outcomes and ecological sustainability.

We’ll tackle these issues at the local, national, and global levels
and look for ways of moving between the local and global to connect
problems and solutions.  Throughout, the course will emphasize that
positive environmental outcomes do not rest solely on individual
attitudes about the environment, but depend critically on larger
social institutions and power relations in a society.  Therefore, the
course will provide a tour not only of the natural world, but also of
the organizational and political forces that shape contemporary societies.