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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Global Environment and Society (PGSP11359)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Course typeStandard AvailabilityAvailable to all students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) Credits20
Home subject areaPostgrad (School of Social and Political Studies) Other subject areaNone
Course website None Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionIn 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)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations 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 Quota:  None
Web Timetable Web Timetable
Course Start Date 13/01/2014
Breakdown of Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Additional Notes
Breakdown of Assessment Methods (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
No Exam Information
Summary of Intended Learning Outcomes
Students will:

- 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.
Assessment Information
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.
Special Arrangements
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus 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
Transferable skills Not entered
Reading list Not entered
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Isabelle Darmon
Tel: (0131 6)51 1574
Course secretaryMrs Gillian Macdonald
Tel: (0131 6)51 3244
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