Postgraduate Course: Global Environment and Society (PGSP11359)
|School||School of Social and Political Science
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
||Availability||Available to all students
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
|Home subject area||Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)
||Other subject area||None
||Taught in Gaelic?||No
|Course description||In the context of environmental crises, and new developments in bio-technologies, questions about the relationship between nature and human societies, are an important facet of sociological analysis. The course introduces students to rapidly evolving debates about the modern emergence of a dualistic understanding of society and nature, the concept of 'natural environment' as a resource for human industrial exploitation, and scientific interventions in, and transformations of, 'nature'.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
|Additional Costs|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|Displayed in Visiting Students Prospectus?||No
Course Delivery Information
|Delivery period: 2013/14 Semester 2, Available to all students (SV1)
||Learn enabled: Yes
|Course Start Date
|Breakdown of Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Breakdown of Assessment Methods (Further Info)
|No Exam Information
Summary of Intended Learning Outcomes
- Gain insight into, and a clear command of, the main debates in the study of the relationship between nature and society.
- Obtain a critical understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of sociological theories analysing the dualistic conception of nature and society.
- Analyse the emergence of a concept of ¿the environment¿ as an economic resource for human exploitation.
- Undertake critical evaluations of alternative visions of the future of liberal democratic societies, in the light of degradation of nature and climate destabilisation.
- Critically assess the state of knowledge in the sociology of environment.
- Plan and execute a significant investigation into a topic core to the study of society and the environment.
|4,000 word essay (75% of overall mark) plus a seminar mark (25%) comprised of student presentations, individual reports, and small group work. Students will be provided with specific guidance on seminar assessment in the first meeting.|
||Lecture Topic Outline and Indicative Reading
1. The Rise of Modern Society, the Industrialisation of Nature, and the Naturalising of the Social.
Burkett, P., (1999), Marx and Nature: A Red and Green Perspective, London: Macmillan.
Pichot, A., (2009), The Pure Society: From Darwin to Hitler, London: Verso.
Yearley, S. (2008) 'Nature and the Environment in Science and Technology Studies', in Edward Hackett et al. (eds), The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 921-947.
2. Dualistic conceptions of nature and society: the environmental movement critique.
Jamison, A., (2001), The Making of Green Knowledge: Environmental Politics and Cultural Transformation, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Meyer, J. M., (1999), 'Interpreting nature and politics in the history of Western thought: The environmentalist challenge' in Environmental Politics, 8 (2): 1¿23.
Yearley, S (2009) Cultures of Environmentalism Basingstoke: Palgrave/Macmillan
Yearley, S. (1994) 'Social Movements and Environmental Change', in Michael Redclift and Ted Benton, eds, Social Theory and the Global Environment, London: Routledge.
3. Dualistic conceptions of nature and society: the feminist critique
Merchant, C., (1980), The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution, New York: Harper and Row.¿
4. Dualistic conceptions of nature and society: the anti-racist critique
Tucker, W. H., (1994), The Science and Politics of Racial Research, Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press.
5. Ecological modernity: are industrialised societies remaking themselves as ecologically rational production and consumption systems?
Mol, A and Spaargaren, G (1993) 'Environment, Modernity and the Risk-Society: The Apocalyptic Horizon of Environmental Reform' in International Sociology, 8 (4): 431¿459.
Mol, A and Spaargaren, G. (2000) 'Ecological Modernisation Theory in Debate: A Review', Environmental Politics, 9, 17-49.
Murphy, J. (2000) 'Ecological Modernisation', Geoforum, 31, 1-8.
6. Risk society: debates about the role of science and technology in contributing to the emergence of potentially catastrophic and global risks.
Beck, U., (1992), Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity, Los Angeles: Sage Publications.
7. Technologies of the body and bio-technologies: the intrusion of technology into biological processes and 'natural relations'. Are technical processes substituting for natural ones, such that the very idea of a natural fact is undermined?
Strathern, M., (1992), After Nature: English Kinship in the Late Twentieth Century, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Yearley, S (2009) 'The ethical landscape: identifying the right way to think about the ethical and societal aspects of synthetic biology research and products' Journal of the Royal Society Interface 6 Supplement 4 S559-S564 doi: 10.1098/rsif.2009.0055.focus
8. The societalisation of nature, and nature as 'historical product': the argument that nature has been so significantly changed by human intervention that it no longer exists outside society.
McKibben, B (1997/2006) The End of Nature, New York: Random House
Yearley, S. (2005) ¿The "end" or the "humanization" of nature?' Organization and Environment 18: 198-201
9. Emergent social, political and economic conflicts: are 'environmental problems' causing uncertainties over the future of society?
Mitchell T (2011) Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil London: Verso
10. The new challenge of incorporating 'nature' into theories of social reality: is nature infinitely exploitable, or are there limits on what the human species is able to do?
Fourcade, M. (2011) 'Cents and Sensibility: Economic Valuation and the Nature of "Nature"' American Journal of Sociology 116: 1721-77.
Yearley, S (2009) 'Sociology and climate change after Kyoto: what roles for social science in understanding climate change?' Current Sociology 57: 389-405
|Course organiser||Dr Isabelle Darmon
Tel: (0131 6)51 1574
|Course secretary||Mrs Gillian Macdonald
Tel: (0131 6)51 3244
© Copyright 2013 The University of Edinburgh - 10 October 2013 5:09 am