In this course we will explore the relationship between the environment and social inequalities – including inequalities of race, class, gender, region, and nation-state. Why do some have access to healthy and safe environments to live and work, and not others? Who decides, and why? We’ll begin with theories of the social and cultural construction of “the environment,” and move to analyzing environmental issues through the lens of social justice and inequality. We will examine the principles, history and politics surrounding environmental justice both globally and locally, including state, corporate, civil society, and community initiatives for environmental justice. We’ll focus particularly on California case studies, from Berkeley and Silicon Valley to the Central Valley and Richmond. Topics include: the social construction of “natural disasters”; production- and consumption-oriented approaches to environmental issues; greenwashing and the politics of sustainability; labor rights and worker health and safety; toxics, e-waste and product life cycles; industrial and alternative agricultures; the politics of conservation and “wilderness”; climate change and green jobs initiatives; the political economy of decision-making pertaining to natural resources; and efforts to democratize science and technology to achieve environmental justice.
Students must apply for Sociology 190 by August 12, 2011, at the website listed below. Students admitted to this course will be added off the wait list at the end of Tele-BEARS Phase II. Wait lists for all upper division sociology courses are not available until Phase II. For questions, course descriptions, syllabus, enrollment priorities and procedures in these seminars go to sociology.berkeley.edu/courses.