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Subject details

  • Topics
    • Introduction + Main environmental concepts
    • Frameworks: understanding science and the environment
    • Science in society
    • Science as industry
    • The environmental crisis, its origins and components
    • Climate change
    • Biodiversity
    • Environmental policy and values
    • Environment and health
    • Water
    • Science and the future & recap on course themes
    • Environmental activism and sustainability
  • Study resources
    • Instructional Methods
      • Disscusion forum/Discussion Board
      • Online assignment submission
      • Standard Media
      • Web links
    • Online Materials
      • Resources and Links

At the completion of this subject, 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.
  • Assignment 1 - Environmental issue analysis (25%)
  • Assignment 2 - Online participation (15%)
  • Assignment 3 - Weekly quizzes (20%)
  • Assignment 4 - Report (2000 words) (40%)

Textbooks are subject to change within the academic year. Students are advised to purchase their books no earlier than one to two months before the start of a subject

No eligibility requirements

Special requirements

No special requirements

This subject 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?

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