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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Megan Styles
ENVIR 459
Seattle Campus

Culture, Ecology, and Politics

Critical studies of class, gender and race differences in environmental politics. The political-economic dimensions of ecological change. Contemporary environmental movements including the varieties of bioregionalism, deep ecology, ecofeminism, ecosocialism, environmental justice, and social ecology. Offered: jointly with ANTH 459.

Class description

This course will focus on the intersection of culture, ecology, and politics in the Seattle metropolitan area. We will explore four cornerstones of Seattle’s economy – coffee, aerospace, the outdoor industry, and computing technologies. What cultural values are associated with these industries and their products? What are some of the ecological and social issues associated with the production and exchange of these commodities? And what roles do local and global actors play in political struggles to make these industries more just and sustainable? We will examine how people's everyday lives are tied to both the employment opportunities that these industries generate in Seattle and abroad AND the ecosystems in which they operate. Topics covered will include fair trade agriculture, urban environmental justice struggles, management of industrial pollution and e-waste, and "recreation" culture. Readings will come from both academic and popular sources, and students will be expected to conduct miniature ethnographic observations in Seattle (e.g. at Starbucks and REI) and reflect on their own relationships with these industries and their products. The class will also include four fieldtrips to the following: a local coffee roaster, the Museum of Flight/Duwamish River, a manufacturing facility for outdoor goods in SoDo, and the South Lake Union Discovery Center. By the end of the class, students will have a deeper understanding of how Seattle is situated in a global economy and the effects (positive and negative) that these industries have on communities and ecosystems here and abroad.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

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 Megan Styles
Date: 04/25/2013