We live in a moment defined by environmental change. Yet the causes and consequences of these transformations are profoundly uneven. Across race, class, gender, and other forms of difference, “environmental problems” manifest in radically unequal ways, disproportionately burdening some while implicating others. In this course we will grapple with this basic tension in debates concerning what to do about present socio-environmental crises, from toxic landscapes and mass extinction to global hunger and a warming climate. Certainly, these problems pose urgent, even existential problems that demand intervention. Yet common refrains about how we are to save the environment always come with baggage (e.g. who is “we” and whose environments, exactly?). They have deep histories and hidden assumptions about causes and solutions, justice and inequality, politics and social change, which we will wrestle with together in this course.
Fall 2018, Middlebury College (ENVS 208)
Image is from a recent article by Steffen et al. (2015) on the notion of “planetary boundaries.”