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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Science, Technology and Innovation Studies

Undergraduate Course: Environmentalism: past and present (STIS08010)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryWhat are the roots of our concern for the environment? What did environmental activism look like in the 1960s, the 1930s or even the 1870s? This course will offer a survey of where environmentalism has come from and where it is going.
Course description The goal of the course is to provide students with a deeper appreciation for the history of environmentalism. We will learn about links between the development of the sciences of the environment and environmentalism as a social movement. Our geographical focus in this course will be on Europe and North America. However, we will also locate and interrogate how environmental concern and policy has developed in various parts of the globe. In all our topics we will note the experiences and contributions of different identity groups. In doing so, we will consider the impact of and reactions to European imperialism and postcolonial globalisation. We will also examine and critique the role of the United Nations and other international organisations in environmental affairs.

This course will introduce and survey three historical processes and their interconnections: the science of ecology, the growth of environmental activism and the development of national and international environmental regulation. The topics covered in the course will comprise sources ranging from the European Enlightenment to the present day. In the process, we will examine a blend of primary sources and scholarly theory and analysis.

The course is taught through two lectures and one tutorial per week. Students are also assigned readings, podcasts and videos linked to the week's theme. Tutorials are largely organised around discussions and activities concerning the content of the lectures and readings from the week before. Where possible, we may visit sites in central Edinburgh to illuminate our discussions. Students will also learn about personal reflective practices that will help them to improve as students and to prepare themselves for Honours-level work.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  24
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 9, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 167 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 1. Primary Source Analysis Report, 1500 words, 30%, due in week 5
2. Course Reflection, 1000 words, 20%, due in week 11
3. Long Essay, 2000 words, 50%, due at end of semester
Feedback The first essay takes the form of a project in which the student will read and analyze a primary source. Feedback from this report will provide advice on how structure and writing can be improved. Students will be given further advice on the long essay in tutorials. For the reflection piece, "feed forward" guidance will be given throughout the semester.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Discuss in general, written and verbally, the history of environmental activism and ecological thought.
  2. Identify and evaluate historical texts relevant to a current environmental issue.
  3. Describe, written and verbally, the relationship between scientific and cultural ideas that concern the environment and environmental change.
  4. Reflect on their own performance in coursework and tutorial discussions, identify strengths, weaknesses and steps toward improvement.
Reading List
Bonneuil, Christophe, Jean-Baptiste Fressoz, and David Fernbach. The Shock of the Anthropocene: The Earth, History and Us. London: Verso, 2017.
Plumwood, Val. Feminism and the Mastery of Nature. London: Routledge, 1993.
Ritvo, Harriet. The Dawn of Green: Manchester, Thirlmere, and Modern Environmentalism Chicago: U of Chicago, 2009.
Smout, T. C. Nature Contested: Environmental History in Scotland and Northern England since 1600. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2000.
Warde, Paul; Libby Robin, and Sverker Sorlin. The Environment: A History of the Idea: Johns Hopkins UP, 2018.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills This course will contribute to students' development of skills in: Research and Enquiry, Communication and Intellectual Autonomy.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Lawrence Dritsas
Tel: (0131 6)50 4011
Course secretaryMs Agata Lebiedzinska
Tel: (01316) 515197
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