Social Change and Natural Resources

Course Description: This three hour course is designed to integrate social and biological science for the purposes of solving natural resource problems. It includes the following theoretical and/or analytical perspectives:

  1. culture,
  2. political economy,
  3. diffusion adoption,
  4. deep ecology and ecofeminism,
  5. resource mobilization,
  6. action and participatory research,
  7. small group and organizational behavior.

Case studies of natural resource exploitation in the U.S. and Third World, video tapes, movies, simulation, role plays, lectures and group discussion may be used to show the relationship between theory and praxis.

Expectations: Attend lectures and participate actively in class discussion. Complete all reading assignments prior to class discussion. Students will be divided into small groups, each of which will write a case study of a problem having social and environmental significance. Students are to use three theoretical or analytical models presented in the course in their analysis of their case study. An oral presentation of the case study will be made to the class near the end of the semester. The case study will also be written as paper and submitted for a grade.

There will be a midterm exam and a final. This course will be taught in the Dana Building, School of Natural Resources and Environment.

Small Group, Organization, and Advocacy Planning (SNRE 495)

Course Description:This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays for two hours each time. Topics in the course include the dimensions essential for group growth, force field analysis, consensus decision making, negotiations, small group facilitation, media strategies, organizational change and development, community organizing, bases of power, and conflict. Other topics include proposal writing, and direct mail campaigns. The course will use lectures, simulations, role plays, group discussion, video tapes, and movies, organized around natural resource content. Students will be organized into affinity groups to accomplish two goals:

  1. each affinity group will be responsible for teaching a group skill to the class, and
  2. each affinity group will be responsible for researching and writing an environmental and social justice profile on a major corporation, which is to be reported on in class near the end of the semester.

As a part of the teaching and learning process, students are required to keep weekly logs on assigned readings, classroom discussion, corporate research, and their interactions within their affinity groups. Each student will be individually interviewed at least once by the T.A. regarding affinity group projects.

Research for Environmental Justice (SNRE 594)

Course Description:This course is taught by Dr. Elaine Hockman, statistician, and Coordinator of the Research Support Laboratory and Computing and Information Technology Center at Wayne State University, Alissa Friedman-Torres, graduate student in Sociology, and Bunyan Bryant, faculty member in the School of Natural Resources and Environment. The course content is based upon several data bases obtained from the State departments of Natural Resources, Public Health, and Education. From the state we obtained Toxic Release Inventory, Leaky Underground Storage Tanks, Act 307 including Superfund, and Low-Birth Weight data bases. These data bases have been merged and made ready for statistical analysis. The course, taught in the School of Natural Resources, is organized into three basic sections:

  1. Data Description, and Data Access: In this section of the course students will learn about how the data were obtained, merged, made ready for analysis and data access through SPSS.
  2. Seminar: This section of the course will require students to read and report on assigned readings, followed by discussion. Students will be assigned different articles to read and therefore it is important that they attend class in order to make concise and organized reports.
  3. Conference Organizing: This section of the class will be used to organize a one-day conference, inviting community activists and policymakers, where students will present their papers.

In the past non-students have been asked to share in the planning and presenting information at the conference. Student papers are to be co-authored with faculty to be submitted to a peer-review journal or to be included in a chapter in a book that is presently being organized.

Race, Poverty, Environmental Justice and the International Connection

Course Description:This is a lecture course. Powerpoint and Adobe Photoshop Software programs have been used to project text, pictures, and graphics on a large screen. Information in the course includes:

  1. the definition of environmental racism, environmental equity, environmental justice, and environmental advocacy,
  2. key research issues in the field of environmental justice which includes, race vs. income, intent vs. nonintent, small vs. large unit of analysis, pollution prevention vs. pollution control, cause and effect vs. association,
  3. understanding energy and its relation environmental justice,
  4. the social structure of accumulation vs. the social structure of sustainability,
  5. comparing the issues of environmental justice within the U.S. and within developing countries,
  6. comparing the Basel Treaty with the Organization of African Unity's ban on the transport of toxic waste internationally, and the First National Environmental Leadership Summit's Seventeen Principles of Environmental Justice. Both domestic and international case studies will be used in the course to enhance teaching and learning.

Students will be required to take midsemester and final examinations and develop case studies.

Social Change, Energy, and Land Ethics (SNRE 494)

Course Description:This graduate seminar approach, developed by the Movement for a New Society in Philadelphia, concentrates on self-generating learning, sharing of readings and ideas, and discussion strategies for social change. The assumption is that in order to effectively design strategies for change, we must have both a global and micro understanding of forces and events throughout the world. Students are required to work in pairs to develop one seminar on a pre-determined topic and one laboratory experience on the same topic for seminar participants. Each student will read a different set of readings. Seminar topics may include racism; classism; patriarchy and sexism; fossil fuels, such as coal and oil; nuclear power; food, including farming, and landuse issues; solar energy; and energy conservation. While the seminar is focused on the reporting of readings and discussion, facilitated by the organizers, the laboratory experiences take on a variety of forms such as movies, simulations, role plays, and/or formal speakers. The faculty will provide readings for the seminar for the first three weeks, allowing time for students to organize their seminars and laboratory experiences. Organizers are required to hand out their readings one week in advance of their seminar.