ENV 764a () / 2024-2025

Sociology of Sacred Values: Modernity, Ecology, and Policy

Credits: 3
Fall 2024: Th, 9:00-11:50, Sage 24


This course equips students to understand how moral culture shapes all environmental issues and management, driving even the most basic decisions that on the surface may appear to be entirely obvious, rational, or scientific. Modern people and modern institutions are propelled toward certain ends and possibilities that are inescapably rooted in questions of human culture about who we are, what we should do, and why it all matters. The first half of the course draws on theoretical readings from sociology, philosophy, and religious studies to understand the ubiquity of sacred codes and how they work, with an emphasis on late-modernity, rationality, capitalism, and the sacred/profane. The second half of the course introduces recent case studies to see in practice how moral values are embedded in environmental work, including policymaking, advocacy, the free market, scientific research, race and class, death and extinction, ecotourism, and more. Cultivating a lens to see culture and moral values in all things will improve students' applied work in all sectors.