GEOGG013 Environmental Knowledges
CORE: GEOGG013 - ENVIRONMENTAL KNOWLEDGES
Term 1 (2011)
· To introduce students to the basis, strengths and limitations of the scientific method as way of knowing about nature and the role that social, political and economic actors play in shaping scientific and environmental agendas
· To develop student knowledge of a range of contemporary social theorists (notably Beck, Latour and Haraway) who are reworking understandings of the nature/culture and science/society divide
· To encourage critical understanding and reflection on the role of social scientific research as a way of understanding and intervening in the complex dynamics of environmental knowledges
This module explores the complex and contested knowledge practices at the heart of contemporary environmental science and politics, examining how social scientists have contributed to understanding the processes of environmental knowledge production, consumption and articulation. The module is divided into three sections.
· The first introduces the relationship between environmental knowledge, science and uncertainty, exploring the scope and limitations of different ways of knowing nature.
· The second examines the intersection between environmental knowledges and the social sciences through the work of contemporary theorists putting environmental knowledges at the centre of their work.
· The third section moves from theory to questions of action attending to the strategies by which governments, institutions and individuals use and make sense of environmental knowledges.
The course is assessed through one piece of coursework, an extended book review exploring the role of environmental knowledges in contemporary environmentalism. Students are also required to keep a reading diary. This is not formally evaluated but is assessed for formative feedback.
The module consists of lectures, podcasts, readings and discussions based upon preparation and presentations by students.
At the end of the course students should be able to:
· Demonstrate understanding of a range of theoretical strands addressing theories of science in society (for example, realist, social constructionist, critical public understanding of science, actor network theory)
· Understand key contexts to environmental knowledge production and consumption in late modern societies (including economic and cultural globalisation, the rise of expert systems, risk society, theories of uncertainty)
· Reflect on the value of social scientific approaches for understanding the challenges that environmental knowledges present to government, institutional and individual actors in the context of contemporary environmentalism.
Suggested preparatory readings:
Berkhout, F., Leech, M. and Scoones, I. 2003. Negotiating environmental change: new perspectives from social science. Cheltenham, Edward Elgar.
Callon, M., Lascoumes, P., Barthe, Y., and Burchell, G. (2009) Acting in an Uncertain World: An Essay on Technical Democracy
Dryzek, J. 2005. The politics of the earth: environmental discourses, Oxford: Oxford University Press, second edition.
Irwin, A. and Michael, M. 2003. Science, Social Theory and Public Knowledge, Open University.