Science Society and Environment - 2017

Unit summary


  • Level of Study: Undergraduate Level 2
  • Study load: 0.125 EFTSL
  • Delivery method: Fully Online
  • Prerequisites: Yes
  • Duration: 13 weeks
  • Government loans available: FEE-HELP, HECS-HELP
  • Availability for 2017: Sem2
  • Availability for 2018: Sem2
  • Assessment: Analysis Task - Environmental issue analysis (25%) , Participation - online participation (15%) - Learn more

Unit provided by

2017 Fees
Domestic 793.00
HECS 793.00
International 1,043.00

This unit examines the relationship between science and society through environmental sustainability. We focus on two big questions: how can we understand science and scientific developments as social processes and institutions; and how can we understand the implications of scientific advance and insights on society in light of environmental issues? We examine how science developed through Modernity, how scientific knowledge is formed and how it's used in the policy process. We look at the continuum of values from conventional instrumental to deep ecological values and investigate their uses in environmental policy. The first question is addressed through an analysis of what we mean by scientific knowledge, how this might differ from other knowledge systems and how science is actually practiced and new insights developed. The second question we address through debates on climate change and sustainability. We ask how and why scientists have raised questions about environmental sustainability. What is the basis of these claims and of criticisms of science? How have scientists engaged in broader social and political debates to advance their environmental insights? How have scientists influenced our societies to become more sustainable, and why have they not been more successful?

At the completion of this unit, it is expected that students will have:

  1. working knowledge of the main themes in scientific knowledge production, environmental policy, climate change and its politics, and sustainability principles
  2. critical and independent research and thinking
  3. competent analysis of arguments: description of content, finding evidence, synthesizing discrete pieces of information, making competent and coherent logical claims
  4. effective oral and written communication
  5. engagement with local and global environmental issues and sustainability.
  • Analysis Task — Environmental issue analysis (25%)
  • Participation — online participation (15%)
  • Quizzes — weekly quizzes (20%)
  • Report — Report (2000 words) (40%)

You must complete Level 1 studies in Sociology before starting this unit.

This unit addresses the following topics.

1Introduction + Main environmental concepts
2Frameworks: understanding science and the environment
3Science in society
4Science as industry
5The environmental crisis, its origins and components
6Climate change
8Environmental policy and values
9Environment and health
11Science and the future & recap on course themes
12Environmental activism and sustainability

This unit is delivered using the following methods and materials:

Instructional Methods

  • Discussion Forum/Discussion Board
  • Online assignment submission
  • Standard Media
  • Web links

Online materials

  • Resources and Links

This unit is a core requirement in the following courses:

This unit is part of a major, minor, stream or specialisation in the following courses:

This unit may be eligible for credit towards other courses:

  1. Many undergraduate courses on offer through OUA include 'open elective' where any OUA unit can be credited to the course. You need to check the Award Requirements on the course page for the number of allowed open electives and any level limitations.
  2. In other cases, the content of this unit might be relevant to a course on offer through OUA or elsewhere. In order to receive credit for this unit in the course you will need to supply the provider institution with a copy of the Unit Profile in the approved format, which you can download here. Note that the Unit Profile is set at the start of the year, and if textbooks change this may not match the Co-Op textbook list.
This unit does not have a prescribed textbook(s).

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