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ENVS 22: Introduction to Environmental Studies

An interdisciplinary examination of environmental problems and solutions

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to environmental studies as an interdisciplinary academic field that addresses environment-society relations. It presents several interpretative perspectives and analytic concepts to study changing social-ecological places, processes, and products. The perspectives primarily integrate disciplines across the social sciences, but include insights drawn from the biophysical sciences. Part one of the course introduces these approaches. We examine population, economics, institutions, ethics, hazards, political economy, and social construction as core perspectives. Part two applies these modes of thinking to several cases studies, such as agriculture, food, energy & climate-change, biodiversity loss, and deforestation. We use these cases to analyze the details of interdependency and assess the complex causes, consequences, and potential solutions to pressing environmental problems occurring at the local, national, and global scales. Learners will also consider the personal and collective dimensions of social change as they participate in multiple forms of environmental civic engagement.