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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Kevin Ramsey
BIS 304
Bothell Campus

Institutions and Social Change

Explores the patterns of power that create our social world and how those patterns can be challenged or modified. Examines cultural, institutional, and interpersonal ways that people gain, challenge, and are affected by power and considers how and whether to bring about social change.

Class description

Institutions and Social Change - Making Environmental Citizens

This SEB Core course explores the patterns of power that shape our social world, as well as the ways in which those patterns can be challenged or modified. To examine this topic in detail, we will focus on several examples of institutions and social change in environmental politics. We will critically examine how and why particular attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors towards the environment emerge and persist, as well as the ways in which they can be challenged or modified. Central to this investigation is the notion that environmental problems are “socially constructed”. In other words we will examine how different kinds of understandings of the relationship between humans and the environment have emerged in recent history as well as how different social practices have been developed in response to these understandings. We will also learn how these understandings and practices become normalized in the form of discourses and institutions which can be resistant to social change. Furthermore, we will explore the patterns of power and inequality which are maintained or undermined by these institutions. Finally, we will examine and evaluate contemporary efforts by planners, policy makers, and activists to transform these discourses, institutions, and practices. While the role of laws, policies, and governing bodies will be addressed, this course is primarily focused on the ways in which regular people are made to identify (or not) as “environmental citizens” who consider the social and ecological implications of their actions. Therefore students will be expected to critically reflect upon their own attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors and to identify and locate themselves within broader social patterns. This course will be a highly interactive class which requires active student participation. The majority of class time will be devoted to various kinds of discussion activities, work on collaborative research projects, and films or presentations relevant to course topics. There may also be opportunities for visits to relevant community events.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

This will be a highly interactive class which requires active student participation. The majority of class time will be devoted to various kinds of discussion activities, work on collaborative research projects, and films or presentations relevant to course topics. There may also be opportunities for visits to relevant community events.

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Kevin Ramsey
Date: 01/10/2008