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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Devon G Pena
AES 211
Seattle Campus

Environmental Justice

Examines introductory studies of environmental racism and ecological injustice in the United States and select areas of the world. Reviews environmental justice theories and methods applied to risk science, ecosystem management, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable development. Includes comparative studies of social movements for "eco-justice." Offered: jointly with ANTH 211/ENVIR 211.

Class description

The course introduces students to the history, theory, and practice of the environmental justice in the United States and other parts of the world. This includes the integration of environmental justice principles into the laws, regulations, policies, and practices of environmental risk, ecosystem management and environmental planning. We examine the debates over "sustainable development" and "resilience theory," and the related grassroots movements that offer "alterNative" strategies to achieve a "just and sustainable" world. The class is based on immersion in interdisciplinary texts and learning activities and will bring together environmental sciences with the social sciences and humanities.

Student learning goals

1. Understand the historical context of environmental justice as an interdisciplinary area of scholarly research and as the ethics underlying social movements that are transforming environmentalism, public policy, and scientific research.

Develop an awareness and ability to understand the Principles of Environmental Justice as expressed in law, regulation, policy, and planning for environmental protection.

Understand critical environmental challenges such as climate change, deforestation, water shortages, agricultural biotechnology (patents, bioprospecting, transgenics, etc.), and pollution from the vantage points of environmental justice theory and practice.

Understand the relationship between biological and cultural diversity and appreciate the importance and relevance of indigenous place-based ecological knowledge or TEK (traditional environmental knowledge).

General method of instruction

This is a large lecture and quiz/discussion section course and will focus on (1) two 1 1/2 hour long lectures by the professor each week, (2) an additional set of smaller hour-long discussion sections each week led by graduate student teaching assistants, and (3) intense engagement with the professor through the GoPost discussion board at all hours of the night and day. Individual consults with students are also encouraged during the professor's office hours.

Recommended preparation

Cultivating a willingness to be open to the truth claims of others.

Class assignments and grading

1. Comprehensive final exam. Take-home; open book and notes; emphasis on writing; three essay-length questions and a set of conceptual definitions. 2. Participation in GoPosts. 3. Participation in Quiz/Discussion sections (including "pop quizzes" during two sessions). 4. Group project: This can range across a number of student-selected preferences including group blogs, field trips for research on local environmental justice issues, special topic portfolios, social networking exercises, etc.

To be determined after meeting with TAs during the current winter quarter.


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 Devon G Pena
Date: 11/07/2011