This course explores the past, present, and future of efforts to address poverty and environmental degradation throughout the world. Although in the past these issues were often treated separately--indeed, in many cases they were seen as diametrically opposed--today it is increasingly argued that they are intricately intertwined in myriad ways and thus must be addressed simultaneously. We'll begin by examining the history of international development and environment interventions, respectively, analyzing the ideology or "discourse” informing their practice, and discussing their contemporary convergence under the rubric of "sustainable development.” Then we'll explore various practical and conceptual issues involved in pursuing ecological, economic, and social sustainability. We'll finish by reviewing contemporary directions and controversies in the field and brainstorming new possibilities for the future.
Reflecting both the newfound recognition within policy circles of the importance of the complex human dynamics involved in addressing poverty and environmental degradation and the relative neglect of such considerations in the past, this class will emphasize the social scientific study of environment/
development practice, exploring the political, economic, social, cultural, and logistical issues involved in implementing successful measures. Rather than focusing on specific themes or topics within environment/development (i.e., forestry, ecotourism, agriculture, etc.), we'll emphasize the core conceptual issues that crosscut and underlie all specific foci. We'll try to push our understanding of these issues as deep as possible, probing their philosophical roots and cultural consequences. In this effort, we'll also reflect critically of our own beliefs, values, and assumptions in order to develop sensitivity to the types of cultural differences likely to influence interventions' success in diverse parts of the world.
- Professor: Robert Fletcher