Major Problems in Environment & Sustainability
How do environmental problems become matters of public concern? This year-long, seminar-style class will investigate five of the most significant problems in environment and sustainability over the course of the last century: the Dust Bowl, lead contamination, DDT, stratospheric ozone depletion, and tropical deforestation. Each case will be investigated historically, using a mix of primary and secondary materials. The goal is to understand how science and law interacted in framing these problems and the manner in which these framings fed into broader political movements to create the conditions for these problems to become matters of “public” concern. Students will gain a detailed understanding of some of the most important historical and ongoing problems in environment and sustainability as well as an appreciation for how different disciplines (and the concepts, theories, methods, and tools that animate those disciplines) have approached these problems and informed various legal responses and government interventions. Each case will also investigate how mainstream understandings and approaches have marginalized certain communities and exacerbated structural inequalities and environmental injustices. Students will also work together in interdisciplinary groups on final group projects focused on a specific problem of their choosing that will allow them to apply the approaches developed through the investigation of the five major case studies.