Justice, Democracy, and Metropolitan Environments
Instructor: Prof. Michan Andrew Connor
Issues of environmental protection, sustainability, and “green” practices have received a great deal of attention as technical and scientific problems. Often it is assumed that devising new technology or amassing authoritative scientific knowledge of environmental problems is the key to solving them. In this course we will consider a different point of view, expressed by Ulrich Beck (1986), that “environmental problems are fundamentally based in how human society is organized.”
We will also seek to overcome the perception that “the environment” is equated to “nature” and is separate from human society by evaluating ways that people encounter environmental issues in the metropolitan areas where a majority of Americans now live. “Acting locally” means understanding how environmental issues and movements relate to diverse and socially complex metropolitan communities. Can the environmental movement help metropolitan residents create better relations with their fellow humans and their whole environment?
Most Americans recognize a general need for environmental protection, but there is no clear agreement on how people should participate in achieving that goal. Who will decide what should be done, and whose ideas and values will govern decisions?
Students in this course will use an interdisciplinary approach to understand how sustainability connects to other social issues, and how people experience these in their daily environments. Students will read and discuss scholarly research and primary sources related to environmental movements and metropolitan conditions, analyze messages in popular culture about the environment and metropolitan areas, and complete a series of short written assignments including response papers and an essay that applies different disciplinary perspectives to a particular metropolitan social/environmental problem.
This Interdisciplinary Studies course is open to students in all UT Arlington programs. Course prerequisites can be waived. Contact the instructor.