F&ES 643b / 2018-2019

Managing the Environment with People in Mind: Understanding the Contribution of the Social Sciences and Humanities

Credits: 3

Spring 2019: M,W, 2:30-3:50, M-Kroon 319; W-Sage 41c

This class focuses on three key contribution of the myriad of social science and humanities disciplines for environmental managers: 1) how to understand, and assess, the way in which different types of environmental problems emerge as concerns among society and policy makers; 2) how different societies define appropriate resource use and how  ‘bottom up’ social movements can trigger transformative change; and 3) the ways in which ‘top down’ state and non-state governance systems develop environmental policies. To do this, the class begins, and ends, with a historical emphasis that challenges the idea that norms or ethics surrounding natural resource management are static and universal. Instead, we seek to understand why norms change, and the lessons for environmental management. The class first turns to the humanities and social science disciplines, from political philosophy to religion and the environment, in order to unpack the ways in which norms emerge among humans that can’t be reduced to purely utility enhancing explanations. The class then turns to the disciplines of anthropology and sociology to better understand the role of cultural values and power dynamics in shaping how natural resources are valued, controlled, and protected. Finally, the class turns to political science, policy sciences, and institutional analysis to understand how, in the global era, environmental policies emerge and influence critical problems facing environmental managers. As each discipline makes an enormous contribution to these questions, the class draws on two different social scientists to organize the class, and then turns to experts in particular disciplines within F&ES and Yale.