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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Megan Styles
ENVIR 495
Seattle Campus

Advanced Topics in Environmental Studies

Advanced topics in environmental studies. Offered: AWSpS.

Class description

Culture & Conservation: Protected Areas Management in Global Perspective

Protected areas (national parks, wildlife preserves, marine reserves, etc.) are a key part of a global strategy to conserve biodiversity. However, these parks generate controversy if/when local communities are excluded from living in, using, and managing the spaces designated for protection. This course will examine critically the strategies developed by resource managers to better integrate local communities (and "culture") in protect areas management. We will compare experiments in "community-based" resource management in protected areas in Africa, Latin America, Asia, & the United States and examine the factors that contribute to the success or failure of these initiatives. How well do these initiatives account for "cultural" differences? How do they define "community" and determine who has a right to participate in management? How do they balance aspirations for ecological conservation with aspirations for economic development and local autonomy? Who determines what constitutes a conservation success story?

A number of social theorists have critiqued global conservation as a problematic form of eco-colonialism. We will discuss this and other critiques of conservation to help us understand why even "community-based" initiatives sometimes generate conflict and yield underwhelming results. However, we will also mine the literature for suggestions about how to move beyond these critiques. How can we take part in the design of more socially just and ecologically sustainable approaches to protected areas management?

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Students will be expected to carefully read and prepare written responses to assigned materials, contribute actively to and lead classroom discussions, and complete a final (10-12 page) paper examining the intersection of culture and conservation in the management of a protected area of their own choosing.

Recommended preparation

This class will meet either the Human & Social Dimensions or the International breadth requirements for the emvironmental studies major. 'W' (Writing) credit will also be available. The course is open to students in other majors and may also be of interest to graduate students interested in the intersection of culture and conservation. There are no prerequisites, but students should be open to dipping their toes into some critical theory from anthropology and geography

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 Megan Styles
Date: 05/16/2013