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Registrar’s code: 94299 Instructor: Brian Tokar, Institute for Social Ecology E-mail: email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
As environmental problems escalate, a variety of radical currents have come to influence ecological thought and activism, representing a critical alternative to traditional environmentalism. This course will describe the historical emergence of various radical environmentalisms, examine several ecologically-based philosophies, and explore new ideas that have emerged from environmental resistance movements in the US and around the world. Readings, class discussions, and guest presenters will include a wide range of perspectives – scholarly and popular, analytical and prescriptive, political and philosophical. Students will have the opportunity to examine today's pressing environmental issues through the lens of emerging movements and philosophical traditions, and develop a hands-on group project that serves to apply this knowledge to a local or regional environmental campaign. During the semester, we will explore the ideas and experiences underlying a wide variety of movements that have emerged as an alternative to traditional environmentalism. Several represent a critique of the more conventional sectors of the environmental movement; others originated with popular responses to urgent issues affecting people’s health, ethical values, and important natural places. These movements are rich in experience, in philosophy, and in their unique lore. Their activities are often controversial, and we will become deeply immersed in several of these controversies. It is just about impossible to simultaneously agree with all of the ideas that will be presented and discussed in this course. Many dedicated environmentalists disagree with many, or even most, of these views. Radical environmental outlooks are often hotly contested and debated. Students are encouraged to voice your opinions, however controversial, and to challenge the ideas and assumptions of the authors whose work we are reading. Requirements and grading system: • • • Class participation, including student presentations of readings and postings to online discussions: 25% 2 response and reflection papers to readings, 4-7 pp. each, focusing on analysis, comparison and critique: 25%. News presentation and research paper: Analyzing an item in the news that is relevant to any of the ideas and/or movements discussed in class: 25%. These will be presented throughout the semester. Students have 3 weeks after their presentation to submit this paper. Group project/presentation/paper: Participation in and/or analysis of a local environmental campaign, event, or project: 25%. These will be presented during the final class session and also documented in writing.
The class will mainly be in a discussion/seminar format. The instructor’s presentations will introduce each week’s topic, aiming to highlight and clarify key concepts, and much of our class time will be devoted to questions, answers and discussions, including small group discussions. The instructor will offer qualitative comments on student papers in addition to grades. Students are expected to read the week’s materials carefully, and be prepared to participate in discussions drawing upon the ideas developed in the readings.
Everyone is expected to attend every class (see Blackboard for specific absence policies) and participate in an active, informed and respectful manner in our class discussions, which will address many diverse aspects of the readings and related issues. Please feel free to respectfully share your disagreements and challenges, as these are generally far more interesting than simply echoing what you’ve read. Students will have the opportunity to supplement in-class participation with comments on a Blackboard discussion forum. Two additional forums will be used to to report back from small group discussions and to facilitate formation of project groups.. Each week, students will volunteer to present key ideas and questions from our week’s readings. Everyone should aim to do 1-2 such presentations, and they will be a part of your class participation grade. These presentations will usually follow the instructor’s introduction to the material. When you volunteer to present to the class on a reading, please aim to accomplish the following: 1. Explain how the particular reading was meaningful to you, and how/whether it added to your understanding of the week’s topic. It is important that you do NOT attempt to summarize the entire reading, in order to maximize time for discussion. 2. Choose 2 - 3 key passages from the reading to help orient our class discussion. 3. Offer a discussion question for the class, related to the reading as well as the overall topic. These should be specific enough to challenge everyone’s understanding of the reading, and open-ended enough to spark a good conversation. Written assignments for the semester are in three parts: 1. Two response/reflection papers on readings: These are short papers of 4-7 pages each, reflecting upon 2 or more of the required readings up to that time in the semester. The purpose is to offer analysis, comparisons and critiques of the ideas expressed, not to either recap what the authors are saying nor scrutinize their writing style. All papers should be printed in 12 point type, 1 1/2- or double-spaced on a reasonable quality printer. Readings should be addressed in a single, unified essay, not separate commentaries on each individual reading. These papers are due the fifth and tenth weeks of class (9/25, 10/30), and students will be penalized for late papers, other than in exceptional circumstances with prior permission. There will be some leeway, however, for students who have a news analysis paper due that week. 2. News analysis – Presentation and paper: Throughout the semester, students are urged to keep a close eye on the news (in newspapers, magazines and electronic sources) for current articles relevant to the various topics addressed in this course. These may be accounts of radical environmental actions, or other environmental stories that the ideas discussed here may shed some light upon. Perhaps a particular philosophy helps explain why something is happening, or clarify the motivations of people taking a particular course of action. The ideas we are discussing in this class have influenced people in many different ways, and this presentation/paper offers an opportunity to broadly reflect upon these influences. Each student will be expected to offer one presentation of approximately 10 - 15 minutes during the semester, and then develop the topic further in written form. The research paper should be 7-10 pages in length, draw upon a variety of sources, and offer background on the issue, the people and organizations involved, and feature an analysis of how it relates to any of the particular movements or philosophies 2
explored in this class. You are encouraged to offer a thorough analysis of the story and/or organization, any important successes and/or limitations, and your conclusions and/or recommendations for further action. These papers should be fully documented and referenced, using any standard format for footnotes. * Please be sure to contact the instructor via email for approval of your news presentation topic. * * The paper is due 3 weeks following your presentation. * 3. Final project/paper: Students will work in groups to develop a final project, or work with an existing organization or campaign that applies one or more of the ideas and perspectives developed in this course. Your project should have some public component, whether in the form of a demonstration, performance, art show, website, video or radio program, or other public presentation. These can be in coordination with an existing project or organization, either on or off-campus, or something developed uniquely by your group. Actions are encouraged to be creative and even bold, but not in violation of any university rules, and certainly nothing that endangers any people or non-human animals. Groups of 2 - 5 students are encouraged to work together, though individual projects are permitted, especially if the activity is part of an ongoing campaign or organizing effort. Projects can be documented in any appropriate medium, along with a final written report. During the 3rd week of class (9/11), we will begin to choose projects and groups. By mid-semester (10/16), groups and individuals should be prepared to submit a brief written proposal (1-2 pp.) which will not be graded, but rather allow the instructor to offer suggestions and resources to facilitate the success of your project; only one proposal per project is needed. Presentations of everyone’s final projects will be scheduled during our final class meeting, though some may choose to present earlier. Documentation of your projects (due no later than December 4th) can be a combination of group and individual writing. However, group reports should include an individual reflection by each participant (2 - 3 pages) describing your particular role in the project, your feelings about the group effort and dynamics, and what you might do differently in the future (these can be submitted together as part of a whole package, or individually if you wish). Project reports should be 6 - 12 pages in length, not including the self-reflections. They may tend toward the shorter end if you are offering substantial non-written documentation (slide presentations, videos, art projects, etc.), and on the longer end if you are not, and address: 1. The overall concept of the project, its rationale, motivation, public significance. 2. The methods and techniques used, and their relation to the ideas discussed in this course. 3. The effectiveness of the project, public impact (tangible or potential), creativity, and effective use of time and resources. 4. The outcome of the project, and possible future steps. Students who for some particular reason do not wish to engage in a project, will have the option of submitting a final research paper instead. These will be 15 - 20 pages in length, are graded on analysis and originality, and the topic needs to be pre-approved by the instructor. Course Schedule and Readings
[Note: All readings are in a course packet available from the Environmental Program office at The Bittersweet House, 153 South Prospect St.]
Week 1 – Aug. 28th: Why Radical Environmentalism? Readings: Wen Stephenson, “Thoreau’s Radical Moment – And Ours,” The Nation, May 27, 2013 Brian Tokar, “Ecology and Revolution,” from Earth for Sale (1997) Bron Taylor, “Resistance: Do the Ends Justify the Means?,” from State of the World 2013 Optional readings: Bron Taylor, “The Tributaries of Radical Environmentalism,” Journal for the Study of Radicalism, 2(1), 2008; Murray Bookchin, “Ecology and Revolutionary Thought” (1964, from Post-Scarcity Anarchism) Video: Excerpts from Just Do It Week 2 – Sept. 4th: Antecedents: Greenpeace and Earth First! Readings: Ric Scarce, “Greenpeace: Bridge To Radicalism” (Eco-Warriors, chapter 4) Paul Wapner, “In Defense of Banner Hangers: The Dark Green Politics of Greenpeace” (Bron Taylor, ed., Ecological Resistance Movements, chapter 16) Howie Wolke, “Earth First! A Founder’s Story,” from lowbagger.org Ric Scarce, “Earth First!: Cracking The Mold,” from Eco-Warriors (pp. 66-85) Judi Bari, “The Feminization of Earth First!” (from Timber Wars) Guest speakers from Rising Tide Vermont Week 3 – Sept. 11th: The Deep Ecology movement Readings: Bron Taylor, “Deep Ecology and Its Social Philosophy: A Critique,” from Eric Katz, et al., eds., Beneath the Surface: Critical Essays in the Philosophy of Deep Ecology Bill Devall, “The Ecological Self” (A. Drengson & Y. Inoue, The Deep Ecology Movement, chapter 9) Andrew McLaughlin, For a Radical Ecocentrism (Drengson & Inoue chapter 19) Optional: Arne Naess, “The Shallow and Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movement” (Drengson & Inoue chapter 1) Initial discussion of student project ideas. Week 4 – Sept. 18th: The Outlook of Social Ecology Readings: Brian Tokar, “ On Bookchin’s Social Ecology and its Contributions to Social Movements” Murray Bookchin, “What is Social Ecology?” from Social Ecology and Communalism Murray Bookchin, “The Outlook of Organic Society,” from The Ecology of Freedom, chapter 2 Optional reading: “Freedom & Necessity in Nature,” from M. Bookchin, The Philosophy of Social Ecology Week 5 – Sept. 25th: Social Ecology: Theory and praxis Readings: Murray Bookchin, Libertarian Municipalism, from The Murray Bookchin Reader, chapter 8 Murray Bookchin, “Market Economy or Moral Economy,” from The Modern Crisis Chaia Heller, “Illustrative Opposition,” from The Ecology of Everyday Life, chapter 6 First response paper due. Video: Murray Bookchin on “Forms of Freedom” 4
Week 6 – Oct. 2nd: Ecofeminism: Reweaving the World Readings: Ynestra King, “The Ecology of Feminism and the Feminism of Ecology,” (Judith Plant, ed., Healing the Wounds, chapter 2) + Women’s Pentagon Action Unity Statement Noël Sturgeon, “Ecofeminist Movements” (C. Merchant, ed., Ecology: Key Concepts in Critical Theory, 2nd edition) Stephanie Lahar, “ Ecofeminist Theory and Grassroots Politics” (From K. J. Warren, Ecological Feminist Philosophies) Vandana Shiva & Maria Mies, “People or Population: Towards a New Ecology of Reproduction” (from Ecofeminism) Week 7 – Oct. 9th: Environmental Justice: Ecology vs. Racism Readings: Robert Bullard, “Environmental Justice in the 21st Century” (From The Quest for Environmental Justice) People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit: Principles of Environmental Justice Ashley Dawson, “Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor: An Interview with Rob Nixon,” from Social Text online, August 2011 Al Geddicks, “Resource Wars Against Native Peoples” (Quest for Environmental Justice) Devon G. Peña, “Political Ecology of the Barrio” (to end of chapter), excerpted from “Tierra y Vida: Chicano Environmental Justice Struggles in the Southwest” (Quest for Environmental Justice) Submit written proposals for class projects (1-2 pp.). Week 8 – Oct. 16th: From Animal Rights to Animal Liberation Readings: Peter Singer, “All Animals Are Equal” (M. Zimmerman, ed., Environmental Philosophy) Tom Regan, “The Struggle for Animal Rights” (A. Linzey & P.B. Clark, eds., Animal Rights) Josephine Donovan, “Animal Rights and Feminist Theory” (G. Gaard, ed., Ecofeminism, chaper 7) Miyun Park, “Opening Cages, Opening Eyes” (P. Singer, ed., In Defense of Animals: The Second Wave) Week 9 – Oct. 23rd: What Kind of Society? Bioregionalism and Eco-socialism Readings: Gary Snyder, “Bioregional Perspectives,” from The Practice of the Wild F. Magdoff & J.B. Foster, “Can Capitalism Go Green?” (excerpt) and “An Ecological Revolution is Not Just Possible: It’s Essential,” from What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism John Bellamy Foster, “The Ecology of Marxian Political Economy,” Monthly Review, September 2011 Guest speaker: Fred Magdoff Week 10 – Oct. 30th: Neo-primitivism and the Revolt Against Civilization Readings: John Zerzan, “Future Primitive,” from primitivism.com Derrick Jensen, “Endgame” (from Endgame, Volume 2) 5
Lierre Keith, “Our Best Hope,” from McBay, Keith & Jensen, Deep Green Resistance P. Kingsnorth & D. Hine, Uncivilization: The Dark Mountain Manifesto (from darkmountain.net) Campbell Young, “So Civilization is killing the planet? Is social ecology the answer?” Second response paper due Week 11 – Nov. 6th: Ecological Resistance and Repression Readings: Randall Amster, “Perspectives on Ecoterrorism: Catalysts, Conflations, and Casualties” (Contemporary Justice Review, Sept. 2006) Will Potter, “Naming Names,” and “Red-Baiting,” from Green is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege Optional reading: Noel Molland, “The Spark that Ignited a Flame” (From S. Best & A. Nocella, eds., Igniting a Revolution: Voices in Defense of the Earth — on reserve) Video: Excerpts from If a Tree Falls Week 12 – Nov. 13th: Critical Perspectives from the Global South Readings: Ivan Illich, “Development as Planned Poverty” (M. Rahnema, ed., The Post-Development Reader) Vandana Shiva, “Development, Ecology and Women” (from Staying Alive) Larry Lohmann, “Visitors to the Commons” (from B. Taylor, ed., Ecological Resistance Movements) Ramachandra Guha, “Radical Environmentalism: A Third World Critique” (C. Merchant, ed., Ecology: Key Concepts in Critical Theory, 1st edition) Optional reading: Nicholas Hildyard, et al., “Reclaiming the Commons” (CornerHouse, UK) Week 13 – Nov. 20th: New Perspectives on the Climate Crisis Readings: Naomi Klein, “Capitalism vs. the Climate” (The Nation, Nov. 28, 2011) Elizabeth Peredo Beltrán, “The climate crisis, a challenge for the human condition and the ethics of nature,” (La Paz, Bolivia: Solón Foundation, 2009) Brian Tokar, “Tar Sands, Extreme Energy and the Future of the Climate Movement,” from A Line in the Tar Sands (in press) Arne Naess, “Deep Ecology for the Twenty-Second Century” (from G. Sessions, ed., Deep Ecology for the 21st Century) – Thanksgiving Break, Nov. 25 - 29th – Week 14 – Dec. 4nd: Student presentations and wrapup Some additional recommended readings: Robert Gottlieb, Forcing the Spring: The Transformation of the American Environmental Movement Chad Montrie, A People’s History of Environmentalism in the United States Douglas Bevington, The Rebirth of Environmentalism 6
Rex Weyler, Greenpeace: How a Group of Journalists, Ecologists and Visionaries Changed the World Murray Bookchin, The Philosophy of Social Ecology Irene Diamond & Gloria Orenstein, eds., Reweaving the World: The Emergence of Ecofeminism Starhawk, Dreaming the Dark, Truth or Dare, The Earth Path Robert Bullard, ed., Confronting Environmental Racism, Unequal Protection, Dumping in Dixie Steven Best & Anthony Nocella: “Behind the Mask: Uncovering the Animal Liberation Front” (online) Steven Best & Anthony Nocella, eds., Igniting a Revolution: Voices in Defense of the Earth George Sessions, Deep Ecology for the 21st Century Damian White, Bookchin: A Critical Appraisal Noel Sturgeon, Ecofeminist Natures Richard Heinberg, The End of Growth Thomas Berry, The Dream of the Earth M.V. McGinnis, ed., Bioregionalism Richard Evanoff, Bioregionalism and Global Ethics Van Andruss, et al., Home: A Bioregional Reader Oscar Olivera, Cochabamba: Water War in Bolivia Peter Singer, Animal Liberation Majid Rahnema, ed., The Post Development Reader Tom Regan, The Case for Animal Rights Tom Ariel Salleh, ed., Eco-Sufficiency and Global Justice Tom Mertes, ed., A Movement of Movements
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