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School of Environment and Natural Resources


Theories in Environmental Social Sciences

ENR 6400

Environmental science emerged during the 1960s and 70s as an interdisciplinary field integrating the biological and physical sciences toward the protection and preservation of the environment. The field subsequently broadened in scope to include study of the social, psychological and economic dimensions of environmental problems—the “human dimension” of environmental problems. As human populations and impacts to nature have accelerated, it has become increasingly clear that no single discipline holds the solution to our environmental problems—thus we’ve increasingly witnessed calls for integrative, inter and trans-disciplinary approaches.

This course provides a broad, interdisciplinary overview of theories and frameworks for understanding and addressing environmental and natural resource management problems. The course is divided into two parts:

Part I. Efforts to Understand and Treat Environmental Problems
This part of the course reviews early narratives, theories and ongoing debates concerning how human beings impact their environment and what can be done to alleviate these impacts. In this part of the course, we also discuss the contributions of different disciplines toward understanding and addressing environmental problems.

Part II. Toward an Integration of the Social and Ecological Sciences
In Part II we will discuss students will be asked to integrate key concepts and ideas discussed in the beginning of the course with knowledge gained from other social and ecological sciences toward the ultimate goal of better understanding how to sustainably manage environmental resources. Throughout the latter half of the course, we discuss socio-ecological systems, as well as additional frameworks for understanding sustainable resource management that integrate knowledge across disciplines.

Course Level: 
Sample Syllabus: 
Semesters Offered: 
Autumn 2023
Current Instructors: 
Instruction Modes: 
In Person