Course Overview

This course is a foundational course for environmental studies and introduces students to some of the key concepts and approaches in this interdisciplinary field from the perspective of the humanities and social sciences. The organizing structure of the course is the evolving history of environmental movements, including wilderness-centered conservation and deep ecology, BIPOC-led and urban-centered environmentalism, Indigenous sovereignty and land back, and climate justice. In exploring a set of historical and contemporary examples of these environmental movements, the course connects sociocultural and scientific concepts in environmental studies. The focus of the course is on the US environmental movements since the 1960s, with points of comparisons to other time periods and national contexts. Through this lens, the course addresses several questions: What are the historical and conceptual foundations of environmental science, policy, and activism? How do different communities experience, imagine, and act to address the causes and consequences of current environmental problems—from biodiversity loss to climate change? How have artists, writers, and others imagined these problems and supported or responded to environmental movements? And what environmental movements are most needed now and in the future?