Global Environment and Social Change
Concentration Adviser: Sonja Pieck
Most environmental issues in the news today, while manifested in biophysical realities, are ultimately linked to historically-rooted, economic, political and cultural drivers that shape power relations and unequal control over and access to resources. This social science concentration is intended for students interested in how environmental issues intersect both with local and global inequalities and with the struggles to change those inequalities. The concentration is meant to highlight how the environment becomes a site at which historically-rooted lines of power (such as gender, race or class) produce diverse patterns of natural resource use and abuse.
Through this concentration, students begin by learning how the international political system works. Given the importance of economic discourses and models in environmental policy making today, students are also asked to acquire a basis in economic thought with focus on environmental economics.
Students then build on this by taking a series of advanced courses designed to explore human-environment relationships and human-to-human power differences at various times and in different regions of the world. Courses ask students to be cognizant of uneven development across the globe, political and cultural tensions between different groups of people at various scales, and how these multi-scalar inequalities affect how actors differentially contribute to, are affected by, and cope with social and environmental change.
In consultation with the concentration advisor, students must also choose a methods course with view towards their senior thesis. By completing a course on methodology, students acquire key tools needed to complete their senior thesis and the ES capstone course, gain greater appreciation for the richness and the rigor of social science methods, and become aware of the assumptions, strengths and limitations of various methods relative to particular kinds of research questions.
Finally, students take a 300-level, theoretically-driven seminar that pushes them to find connections between different bodies of literature or theory and to apply established theories to new contexts, a crucial skill for the senior thesis writer.
Courses that count for the fourth course (200- or 300-level) requirement within the core:
- ES/RU 216 Nature in Russian Culture
- ENVR 227 Catastrophes and Hope
- ENVR 229 The Electric Grid
- ENVR 240 Water and Watersheds
- ENVR 310 Soils
- ENVR 334 The Question of the Animal
- ENVR 340 Literature of Agriculture
- ENVR 348 Nature and the Novel
The GESC concentration consists of seven courses, but please be aware that courses carrying an asterisk (*) carry pre- or co-requisites within their home departments or programs that must be respected. We therefore strongly encourage you to plan early.
(1) Required courses
- ECON 101 Intro to Microeconomics
- ECON 222 Environmental Economics*
(2) Two mid-level courses
- AN/ES 242 Environment, Human Rights, Indigenous Peoples*
- AN/SO 232 Ethnicity, Nation, and World Community
- AS/EC 242 Work and Workers in China
- INDS 211 Environmental Perspectives on U.S. History
- PLTC 202 Garbage and the Politics of Disposition
- PLTC 244 Political Imagination
- PLTC 248 The Arctic: Politics, Economics, Peoples
- PLTC 249 Politics of Latin America
- PLTC 250 Politics of Third World Development (not open to students who have received credit for ANTH 330)
- PLTC 258 Environmental Diplomacy
- PLTC 290 Politics in Sub-Saharan Africa
- SOC 235 Global Health: Sociological Perspectives*
- SOC 250 Privilege, Power, and Inequality
One course from study abroad may be applied to this category with adviser approval.
(3) One methods course (in consultation with the concentration adviser)
- ANTH s10 Encountering Community: Ethnographic Fieldwork and Service-Learning
- ECON 250 Statistics
- BIO 244 Biostatistics*
- PSYCH 218 Statistics and Experimental Design*
- HIST s40 Introduction to Historical Methods
- INDS 250 Interdisciplinary Studies: Methods and Modes of Inquiry*
- PLTC s49 Political Inquiry*
- SOC 205 Research Methods for Sociology*
- RHET 257 Rhetorical Criticism*
- RHET 276 Television Criticism*
- EDUC s26 Qualitative Research Methods
The methods course must be taken before the student’s senior year.
(4) One 300-level seminar
- AN/ES 337 Social Movements, NGOs & the Environment* (not open to students who have received credit for PLTC 345)
- ANTH 330 The Development of Underdevelopment (not open to students who have received credit for PLTC 250)
- ECON 309 Economics of Less Developed Countries*
- PLTC 315 International Cooperation
- PLTC 345 NGOs and World Politics* (not open to students who have received credit for AN/ES 337)
- PLTC 346 Power and Protest
- PLTC 312 Ocean Governance: Local, National and International Challenges
- ENVR 350 Environmental Justice in the Americas