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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Patrick John Christie
ENVIR 103
Seattle Campus

Society and the Oceans

Explores the social and policy dimensions of the ocean environment and ocean management policy. Pays attention to how human values, institutions, culture, and history shape environmental issues and policy responses. Examines case studies and influential frameworks, such as the ocean as "tragedy of the commons." Offered: jointly with JSIS B 103/SMEA 103.

Class description

The oceans were once considered an inexhaustible source of protein and mineral wealth capable of sustaining humankind into the distant future. Today the oceans have become the ultimate proving ground of whether humans are capable of achieving a sustainable relationship with a planet showing increasing signs of stress. Human populations are burgeoning in coastal areas worldwide, with increasing affluence and increasing impoverishment each in its own way contributing to coastal resource degradation. The course consists of four units: 1) an introduction to how human values and interests shape our interactions, through time, with the marine environment; 2) an examination of "tragedy of the commons" concept; 3) a review of Puget Sound and Southeast Asia coral reef marine environmental issues and current policy responses; 4) an overview of marine policy at various scales Two very distinct cases-Puget Sound salmon and Southeast Asia coral reefs- will be examined to emphasize the importance of context-specific policy formulation. Social and ecological evaluation criteria will be applied to develop skills in analytic and holistic policy development.

Student learning goals

Students will learn the state of and causes for ocean environmental conditions.

Students will gain analytic skills to consider trade-offs associated with environmental management policies.

General method of instruction

Lectures and discussion.

Recommended preparation

None.

Class assignments and grading

Short writing assignments and readings.

Quizzes and attendance in class.


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 Michele P Berg
Date: 03/02/2011