Consider taking “MLS 409: Environment and Society” this Winter Quarter


Keeping in theme with our film screening of Green Fire next month, one of our upcoming MALS core courses, MLS 409: Environment and Society, will focus on an interdisciplinary look at the current issues surrounding environmentalism. 

Course Description and Objectives

This course is a look at some current trends in thinking about, and action upon, the environment. Since the arrival of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring a half century ago, concern about the environment has spread from the scientific community to the realms of politics, ethics, social justice, feminism, spirituality, and literature and the arts. We have never been more preoccupied with the human relationship to the environment, and vice versa.

We will raise the following questions (to begin):

  • Are humans a part of or apart from nature – or both, somehow? What is entailed in these commitments and identifications in terms of how we treat the environment? 
  • Which and whose environment(s) are we talking about? How does category of the environment and its meaning differ by culture, location, and history?
  • What is the status of environmentalism? Is it robust or moribund? What are the tensions among local and global environmental advocacy efforts, and among other progressive movements?
  • How is the environment represented and delivered to us today? What are the roles and effects of traditional media (print, broadcast) and new, electronic, technologies (internet, mobile phone) in reproducing, mediating, and structuring experiences of the environment?
  • How might we imagine future environments? What do the arts do to help us envision and aspire to different modes of living in relation to the environment and society?

The course will be anchored by four recent books that have interesting things to say about this huge and complex issue. The work we do in this course (together, in the classroom, as well as individually, in writing) will be characteristic of the MALS program: interdisciplinary, imaginative, exploratory, and rigorous. Assignments are designed to help students develop their critical reflection and writing skills, as well as improve their capacity to make practical decisions and judgments in a complex world.