Saint-Louis University - Bruxelles

POLS1321 - Society and Environment


Credits : 5

Lecturer :
Mode of delivery :
Face-to-face , second term, 30 hours of theory.

Timetable :
Second term
Friday from 08:30 to 10:30 at Ommegang Om30

Language of instruction :

Learning outcomes :
The course aims at getting a better understanding of today's environmental problems and their socio-political implications. For the environment involves societal stakes and political claims that are arresting and even difficult to grasp, let stand to resolve. That's why the course explores the classics, texts, theories and research that helped to disclose the social and political nature of the environment. This should enable students to better find their bearings in today's debate and analysis in environmental affairs.

Prerequisites :
For the Bachelor in Law :

For the Bachelor in Information and Communication :
  or the courses :
  ESPO1162 - Political science

For the Bachelor in Political Sciences: General :
  or the courses :
  ESPO1160 - Sociology

For the Bachelor in Sociology and Anthropology :
  or the courses :
  ESPO1160 - Sociology

Co-requisites :
Course contents :
During the course, we'll look at the ways in which social sciences have tackled and studied environmental questions for over a century. More particularly, we'll look at four different theoretical perspectives still active today: Neo-Marxism (a.o. David Harvey, Mike Davis) ; Human Ecology (a.o. Jarred Diamond, Donna Haraway); Post-Cybernetics (a.o. James Lovelock, Lynn Margulis); and Deep Ecology (a.o. Arne Naess). For each perspective, we'll present a brief historical outline, texts and authors as well as some of the emblematic empirical cases these authors bring to our attention. We'll also touch upon the affinities between the theoretical endeavours and current or past political movements. Overall, we'll try and assess the possibilities and limitations as well as the kind of conversations each perspective can offer.

Planned learning activities and teaching methods :
Active use of articles i.e. compulsory reading material during the exam. If possible, invited lecturers durinf teh semester.

Assessment methods and criteria :
Open-book oral exam.

Recommended or required reading :

Required reading available at the Reprography. List still to be confirmed.

Carolyn Merchant, 1980, “Mechanism as Power”, The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology and the Scientific Revolution, New York: Harper Collins, pp. 216-235.

Philippe Descola, 2013 (F 2005), “The Certainties of Naturalism” in Beyond Nature and Culture, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 172-200

William Cronon, 1996, “The Trouble with Wilderness, or Getting Back to the Wrong Nature”, W. Cronon, ed., Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature, Norton & Co, pp. 69-90.

Naomi Klein, 2014, “Hot Money: How Free Market Fundamentalism Helped Overheat the Planet”, This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs The Climate, New York: Simon & Schuster, pp. 64-95.

Mike Davis, 1998, “The Case for Letting Malibu Burn”, Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster, New York: Vintage Books, pp. 95-146.

Deborah Bird Rose, 2004, “Footprints”, Reports from a Wild Country: Ethics for Decolonisation, Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, pp. 165-178.

Thom Van Dooren, 2014, “Breeding Cranes: The Violent-Care of Captive Life”, Flight Ways: Life and Loss at the Edge of Extinction, Columbia University Press, pp. 87-123.

Jared Diamond, 2005 (1997), “Lethal Gift of Livestock”, Guns, Germs and Steel: a History of Everybody for the last 13,000 years, London: Vintage, pp. 195-214.

Donella Meadows, 1999, “Leverage Points. Places to Intervene in a System.” The Sustainability Institute (first printed in Whole Earth, 1997), pp. 1-19.

David Abram, 1997, The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World. “The Ecology of Magic”. London: Vintage. pp. 3-29.

Chaia Heller, 2005, “Biotechnology, Democracy, and Revolution”, Harbinger — A Journal for Social Ecology (hosted by the Institute of Social Ecology's website), posted in Jan.