ENV 522a () / 2023-2024

Human Science Foundations for Environmental Managers

Credits: 1.5
Fall 2023: Tu, 4:00-5:20, Burke

The environmental fields of inquiry that focus on human behavior, culture, governance, and history have matured and proliferated in the 21st century (environmental anthropology, environmental sociology, environmental governance, environmental history, environmental humanities and more).  This new scholarship has advanced the academic state of knowledge and sharpened our collective ability to understand human-environmental relations.  Yet despite better science, we struggle to make material change in the collective rate of human consumption of Earth’s natural resources. Not only is the planet harmed by our failures, but millions of people are also harmed. 

Embedded in all scientific endeavors is a theory of change. But rarely are theories of change made explicit for environmental stewardship. In this course, we will investigate new bodies of scholarship that explore relational values, varying concepts of stewardship, a range of theories of change and, finally, capabilities or human rights-based measure of the life well lived.

We will explore the following questions: What does it mean to be an environmental steward in a world filled with social, political, and economic inequalities?  How can we weave together multiple knowledge systems or ways of knowing through environmental stewardship? How can we balance the need for social and environmental change in a way that is both place-based and responsive to global concerns? Can theories of change help us act when the scientific data is both clear and uncertain? How can we incorporate non-economic measures of human well-being into our decision-making?