POL S 384 A: Global Environmental Politics

Summer Term: 
B-term
Meeting Time: 
MTWThF 12:00pm - 2:10pm
Location: 
ART 006
SLN: 
14474
Joint Sections: 
ENVIR 384 A
Instructor:
Mathieu Dubeau

Syllabus Description:

Global Environmental Politics:
From Disturbed Pasts to Dystopian Futures
POL S/ENVIR 384
University of Washington
Summer 2018: B-Term
5 Credits
M,T,W,TH, F: 12:00 PM – 2:10 PM
Johnson Hall 075

 

Instructor

Mathieu Dubeau, Ph.C                                                                                                   Office Hours

Smith 37                                                                                                                                  TBD

mdubeau@uw.edu

 

“Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first.”

-Friedrich Engels

 

Description:

 

The pending ecological crisis began with the confluence of Modernity and the industrial revolution. The human desire to master and control has led to unprecedented growth in technology, industry, and economy. But at what social and ecological costs? “Nature”, which was once thought to be abundant and limitless, is increasingly being pushed beyond its regenerative capacities, fundamentally altering and changing our present lived-realities and what it means to be human. This course will, first, introduce the ecological (and socio/political) crisis through Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake. Oryx and Crake takes place in a, dystopian, not too distant future. We begin to see our potential future world through the eyes of our protagonist, Snowman-the-Jimmy. Throughout the novel we will see Jimmy try and navigate life through, what can only be described as, an ultra-security state. You will be forced to think through the connection between authoritarian governments, ecological degradation, and genetic engineering with pigoons and rakunks.

 

This course will force you to think relationally, that means that ecological concerns cannot be neatly separated from social, political, cultural, and economic relations. At this point in the course we will turn our attention to André Gorz’s Ecology as Politics, which will make the case that neither liberal capitalism or authoritarian socialism is adequate to address our present eco-social predicament. We might just have to completely rethink the institutions that currently form the basis of society as we know it.

 

We will finish the course with Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac, which is now considered a classic in environmental history. Is Leopold’s “Land Ethic” capable of responding to our present ecological predicament? What does it mean to “think like a mountain”? These questions, and many more, will be investigated in this course.

Readings:

Students are required to keep up with a full, though not unreasonable, schedule of readings. Reading assignments are keyed to lecture sessions, in which informed classroom discussion will play an integral role. (In other words, I expect you to be able to answer questions about the readings when called on to do so in lecture.)

 

Exams:

There will be one mid-term in this course. A study guide will be circulated in advance.

 

Papers and Grading:

There will be one final paper in this course. The paper will ask you to identify a contemporary ecological issue and identify the corresponding social, political, cultural, and economic ramifications of this issue. The second part of the essay will ask you to develop policy proposals, like a policy analyst might, to ameliorate our current predicament. I suggest you begin writing these papers early on. Developing good argumentative writing is a lifetime endeavor. Start your papers well in advance so that you have time to show drafts to others and to revise them in light of feedback and self-critical reflection.

 

Group-Project Presentations: Week 2

Mid-term: Due week 3

Final Paper (5-7 pages): Due week 5

 

Group Project:             15%

Mid-Term:                   30%

Final Paper:                 35%

Participation:               20%

 

Academic Integrity:

 

Cheating and plagiarism are offenses against academic integrity and are subject to disciplinary action by the University. Plagiarism is copying someone else’s work and presenting it as your own (by not attributing it to its true source). If you are uncertain what constitutes plagiarism, please ask me. The Political Science/JSIS/LSJ/CHID Writing Center also offers guidance on plagiarism: http://depts.washington.edu/pswrite/forstudents.html (Links to an external site.)

 

Keys to Succeeding in this Course:

  1. Attend lecture.
  2. There is a reading assignment attached to each lecture. Do this reading before If you don’t do the reading before lecture, you won’t know what’s going on; even worse, you might mistakenly think that – having attended lecture and “understood” what was said – you do know what’s going on, even though- not having done the reading – your “understanding” from lecture is superficial and therefore misleading.
  3. Much of the reading is tough-going. And even the reading that doesn’t seem tough-going is trickier than it first appears. So don’t try to do all of each session’s reading in one sitting. Break it up into two or three chunks that you read 45 minutes to an hour at a time. This requires advance planning, but you’ll understand more and do better in the course as a result.
  4. Participate in lecture. I often conduct large-group discussion, and you will achieve greater command of the material if you ask questions about points that confuse you and participate in debates about the material’s meaning and implications.

 

Required Texts:

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Ecology as Politics by Andre Gorz (Do not buy, I will have a PDF available)

What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism by Fred Magdoff & John

Bellamy Foster

A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold

And other readings which will be made available on Canvas

 

Class Reading Schedule

Week 1: Introduction

July 19th – Course Introduction, no readings

July 20th – Situating Global Environmental Politics,

1. Oryx and Crake pgs. 1 – 92

 

2. James Gustave Speth and Peter M Haas (2006) From Stockholm to Johannesburg: First

Attempt at Global Environmental Governance. In Global Environmental Governance.

Washington: Island Press. chapter 1, 1-13

 

3. Dauvergne, Peter, and Jennifer Clapp. "Researching global environmental politics in the

21st century." Global Environmental Politics 16, no. 1 (2016): 1-12.

 

Week 2:

July 23rd – Defining the Problem and Identifying the Actors

1. Oryx and Crake pgs. 95- 169

2. Donna Meadows, The Limits to Growth

3. Garrett Hardin (1968) The Tragedy of the Commons. Science. 162(3859), 1243–1248

4. Kate O’Neill (2009) Actors in International Environmental Politics. In O’Neill The

Environment and International Relations. chapter 3, 48–70

Group work

 

July 24th – Ten Major Global Environmental Challenges

1. Oryx and Crake pgs. 173-261

2. James Gustave Speth and Peter M Haas (2006) From Stockholm to Johannesburg: First

Attempt at Global Environmental Governance. In Global Environmental Governance.

Washington: Island Press, chapter 2, pgs. 16-44

Group work

 

July 25th – Early Successes of Montreal and IWC

1. Oryx and Crake – Finish book

2. M. J. Peterson (1992) Whalers, Cetologists, Environmentalists, and the International

Management of Whaling. International Organization. 46(1)Winter, 147–186

3. Karen T. Litfin (1995) Framing Science: Precautionary Discourse and the Ozone

Treaties. Millenium: Journal of International Studies. 24(2), 251–277

Group work

 

July 26th – Group Presentations

 

July 27th – Documentary Friday: Before the Flood

Reading catch-up day

 

Week 3: Thinking Beyond Liberal Capitalism and Authoritarian Socialism

July 30th – Ecology and Freedom

1. Ecology as Politics, Part 1 pgs. 3-42

2. James Gustave Speth and Peter M Haas (2006) From Stockholm to Johannesburg: First

Attempt at Global Environmental Governance. In Global Environmental Governance.

Washington: Island Press, ISBN 1597260819. chapter 3, pgs. 52-78

 

July 31st – Ecology and Society

1. Ecology as Politics, Part 2 pgs. 55-91

2.James Gustave Speth and Peter M Haas (2006) From Stockholm to Johannesburg: First

Attempt at Global Environmental Governance. In Global Environmental Governance.

Washington: Island Press, ISBN 1597260819. chapter 6, pgs. 125-147

 

August 1st – The Logic of Tools

1. Ecology as Politics, Part 3 pgs. 99-130

Test Review

August 2nd: MID-TERM!!!!!

August 3rd: Day-off!

Week 4: Political Ecology and Economy: Global Inequality

August 6th:

1. Magdoff, F., & Foster, J. B. (2011). What every environmentalist needs to know about

capitalism: A citizen's guide to capitalism and the environment. NYU Press. Pgs. 7-36

2. Herman Daly (2008) A Steady State Economy. Sustainable Development Commission

 

August 7th:

1. Magdoff, F., & Foster, J. B. (2011). What every environmentalist needs to know about

capitalism: A citizen's guide to capitalism and the environment. NYU Press. Pgs. 37-93

2. Michael Maniates (2001). Individualization: Plant a tree, buy a bike, save the world?

Global Environmental Politics

3. Collette Shade (2018). What Wendell Berry wants? The New Republic

 

August 8th:

1. Magdoff, F., & Foster, J. B. (2011). What every environmentalist needs to know about

capitalism: A citizen's guide to capitalism and the environment. NYU Press. Pgs. 94-144

2. Aleju Bajak “The Dangerous Belief That Extreme Technology Will Fix Climate

Change”

 

August 9th: Political Ecology and Relational Ontologies

1. Leopold, A. (1970). A Sand County Almanac. 1949. New York: Ballantine. Part 1 pgs. 3-

98

2. Tsing, A. (2012). Unruly Edges: Mushrooms as Companion Species for Donna Haraway.

Environmental Humanities, 1(1), 141-154.

3. Castree, N. (2003). Environmental issues: relational ontologies and hybrid politics.

August 10th: Documentary Friday – Racing Extinction

Reading Catch-up

 

Week 5: Thinking Like a Mountain

August 13th: Environmental Justice

1. Leopold, A. (1970). A Sand County Almanac. 1949. New York: Ballantine. Part 2 pgs.

101-173

2. Bullard, R. D. (2001). Environmental justice in the 21st century: Race still

matters. Phylon (1960-), 49(3/4), 151-171.

3. Schlosberg, David, and David Carruthers. "Indigenous struggles, environmental justice, and

community capabilities." Global Environmental Politics 10, no. 4 (2010): 12-35.

August 14th:

1. Leopold, A. (1970). A Sand County Almanac. 1949. New York: Ballantine. Part 3, pgs.

177-233

2. Dimitrov, Radoslav S. "The Paris agreement on climate change: Behind closed doors." Global

Environmental Politics16, no. 3 (2016): 1-11.

Peer Review Final Papers

August 15th: Paris Accord and Beyond

1. Leopold, A. (1970). A Sand County Almanac. 1949. New York: Ballantine. Part 4, finish

book

Course Wrap-Up

August 16th: Final Paper Due at Midnight.

 

Catalog Description: 
Examines the globalization of environmental problems, including climate change, ozone depletion, and loss of biodiversity, as well as the globalization of political responses to these problems within the framework of globalization as set of interlinked economic, technological, cultural, and political processes. Offered: jointly with ENVIR 384.
Department Requirements: 
International Relations Field
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Credits: 
5.0
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 9:10pm