Climate Justice Manifestos










































































































































































































































Environmental Studies 4120 & English 4970 -- Fall 2016

Cultural Studies and Climate Change

“We know the (ecological) catastrophe is possible, probable even,
yet we do not believe it will really happen.”  Slavoj Žižek

Yeb Sano, Philippines negotiator, speaking to the 2013 UN Climate Change Convention 19th Conference of the Parties (COP) in Warsaw

2016 will likely be the hottest year ever recorded, following 2015 and 2014, which set previous records. Now is a time of dire emergency for the Earth, a time when drastic and dramatic measures must be taken so that our planet remains habitable.

A cultural studies approach to understanding the challenge of climate change can foster a deeper understanding of the human social systems that cause it and possibilities for meaningful action.

Cultural studies draws on cultural, political, and economic theory to analyze discourse, culture, and behavior with a view toward voice and democratic participation. Cultural studies includes critical examination of the production and flow of culture in national and international capitalism, the naturalization and reproduction of inequality, as well as political resistance and the rise of traditional and new social movements.

This course brings together critical theory and tools from the humanities and social sciences to consider: 1) the history, politics, and ethics of global warming; 2) imagined representations of warming in the future and their relevance to the present; and, 3) ways to mobilize people to address climate change via social movements.

Geologists now identify our geological epoch as the Anthropocene, a time when our planet is dominated by humanity.  But that domination is not equal among all people. A cultural studies perspective might more specifically say we are living in the Capitalocene; as Jason Moore describes:

The Anthropocene makes for an easy story. Easy, because it does not challenge the naturalized inequalities, alienation, and violence inscribed in modernity’s strategic relations of power and production. It is an easy story to tell because it does not ask us to think about these relations at all. The mosaic of human activity in the web of life is reduced to an abstract Humanity: a homogeneous acting unit. Inequality, commodification, imperialism, patriarchy, racial formations, and much more, have been largely removed from consideration. ... Are we really living in the Anthropocene, with its return to a curiously Eurocentric vista of humanity, and its reliance on well-worn notions of resource- and technological-determinism? Or are we living in the Capitalocene, the historical era shaped by relations privileging the endless accumulation of capital? (Capitalocene)

This new course, designed to meet requirements of WMU's new minor in Climate Change, is experimental and the syllabus provisional and under development.

Course Success

Since the class is discussion-based, attendance and preparation are essential to your own learning and to the learning of your classmates. Missing any classes will affect your learning. Missing 3 classes or more will lower your grade and missing 5 classes may lead to failing. Study my philosophy regarding discussion, preparation, participation, attendance, grading, and learning!

Your final course grade will be an average of grades for the major assignments, listed and weighted below.

This course will follow WMU policies regarding academic honesty.

WMU has many resources to foster student health and well being. If at any point in the semester if you feel stress, English 3110 does offer free on-line therapy from Eliza!

My office is 723 Sprau Tower, 387-2605. Office hours are before and after class and by appointment. You can always reach me via email.



Lynas, Mark. Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet. (National Geographic, 2008)

Jensen, Liz. The Rapture. (Doubleday, 2009)

Additional reading and viewing linked to this syllabus and/or provided by the professor.

Major Assignments


Class Participation (25%)              

Climate Justice Manifesto (25%)

Cli-Fi Project (25%)

Action Project (25%)

Electronic Syllabus

Wed. Sep. 7: Introductions

Mon. Sep 12: The Climate Change Crisis

1. Read carefully through the entire on-line syllabus. Bring any questions about the syllabus and assignments to class.

2. Join our class phone message system, Remind by sending this message, "@akgge" to this number "81010" using your cell phone (your cell phone number will remain private, you can also send the message to 5863590468).

3. Read: Six Degrees, your assigned chapter and collaborate on Google Slides to create a presentation for the class. 1 Degree, 2 Degrees, 3 Degrees, 4 Degrees, 5 Degrees, 6 Degrees.

Wed. Sep 14: Climate Crisis: Where do we go from here?

1. Study: Dashboard of the Great Acceleration

2. Read Global Warming's Terrifying New Math by Bill McKibbon, Rolling Stone, 7-19-12.

3. Read selection from A World at War by Bill McKibbon, The New Republic 8-15-16.

4. Read on climate change: Obama, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and, why not? Bernie Sanders.

Part I: Climate Justice: History, Economics, Politics and Ethics

Mon. Sep 19: Wikipedia Weekend: Cultural Studies, Colonialism, Postcolonialism, Globalization, and Neoliberalism

[Learn how to read Wikipedia, including history and talk pages! Create questions to guide discussion that help us understand key ideas about the topic, and, also questions that asks us to think in complex ways, make connections, etc. ]

1. Read Wikipedia on Cultural Studies 

2. Read Wikipedia on Colonialism

3. Read Wikipedia on Postcolonialism

4. Read Wikipedia on Globalization 

5. Read Wikipedia on Neoliberalism 

Wed. Sep. 21: Indigenous Leadership

1. Read from This Changes Everything, p 161-82 and 367-87 (handed out in class)

2. Read Native American Protesters Stop Pipeline Construction, Aug, 2016

Mon. Sep. 26: Capitalism and Climate Change

1. Read: From the Communist Manifesto, sections I & II & IV by Karl Marx (1848)

2. Read: The Myth of the Tragedy of the Commons by Ian Angus

Wed. Sep. 28: Marxists on Climate Change

1. Read: Marxism and Environmental Crisis by John Molyneux

2. Read: Climate in Crisis Shows the Necessity for a Revolution by Adam Booth

3. Read: Climate Change: A Marxist Analysis by Terry Townsend

Mon. Oct. 3: Climate Change in Historical Perspective

Visiting Scholar Dr. David Benac, Department of History

1. Read: "The Ultimate Environmental Dilemma"

Wed. Oct. 5: Gramsci and Climate Change

1. Read: Gramsci, Culture, and Climate Change by Dylan Harris

2. Read: A Neo-Gramscian Approach to Corporate Political Strategy by David Levy and Daniel Egan

Mon. Oct. 10: Classical Economics and Climate Change

Visiting Scholar, Dr. Jon Neil, Department of Economics

1. Read:  from the Stern Review: The Economics of Climate Change

2. (Optional) Read: "Some Concepts from Welfare Economics" by Robert Dorfman

Wed. Oct 12: Rawls and Climate Change

1. Read: Section 3, p. 7-15 from A Theory of Justice by John Rawls

2. Read: "Rawlsian Ethics of Climate Change" by Dr. Paul Clements, Department of Political Science

Mon. Oct 17: Climate Justice

1. Read: People's Agreement of Cochabamba

Part II: Cli-Fi: Evaluating Cultural Representations of Climate Change

Wed. Oct 19: Cli-fi Short Stories

1. Read: Climate Change Short Stories. Rich-"Hermie," Atcheson-"How Close to the Savage Soul," May-"The Audit," Atwood-"Time Capsule Found on the Dead Planet"

Mon. Oct. 24: The Cli-Fi Imagination

1. Read: from Teaching About Climate Change, by Beach, Share & Webb

2. Climate Justice Manifesto DUE

Wed. Oct. 26: Ecofeminism and Climate Change Narratives

1. Read: "What's the story? Competing narratives of climate change and climate justice" Greta Gaard

2. Read: Chapter 1 & 2 of The Rapture by Liz Jensen

3. View: Trees Are Dying, Dr. Octagon (lyrics)

Mon. Oct. 31: Cli-Fi Novel

1. Read: Chapters 3-14 of The Rapture 

Wed. Nov. 2: Cli-Fi Novel Continued

1. Read: Finish The Rapture

2. Read: Helen Mundler essay Writing Climate Change

Mon. Nov. 7: Cli-Fi Film

1. View: The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

2.  Read: Disaster for Dummies, International Impact, and What You See is Happening Right Now.

3. Read: Could "The Day After Tomorrow" happen? (October, 2015)

4. View: Jim Hansen on Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise, and Superstorms (March 2016). (Optional: Read his paper.)

Part III Climate Change Action: Movements, Media, & Motivation 

Wed. Nov. 9: Habermas and the Public Sphere

1. Read: From The Public Sphere, pp.1-43, 51-56, 181-195

Mon. Nov. 14: Climate Change and Social Movements

1. Read: Social Movement

2. Read: from Climate Change and Social Movements 

3. Read: The Death of Environmentalism: Global Warming in a Post-environmental World, by Shellenberger and Nordhous

4. Cli-Fi Project DUE

Wed. Nov. 16: Climate Change Movement Organizations

1. Study one of these organizations and prepare a powerpoint that describes them, their goals, history structure, methods, funding, future plans: 350.Org, Greenpeace, Go Fossil Free, Global Green, the Sierra Club, Carbon Fund, Idle No More, Union of Concerned Scientists, 1Sky, Climate Project, Focus the Nation, Blue/Green Alliance, Yale Project on Climate Change, Idle No More, Alliance for Climate Education, Citizen's Climate Lobby, Others -- Slide Show 

Mon. Nov. 21: Begin Climate Action Project

1) Bring three developed ideas to class for possible climate change action projects you could participate in.

Wed. Nov. 23: Thanksgiving Break, no class

Mon. Nov. 28: Climate Change Avoidance

1. Read: From Don't Even Think About It

2. Write 3-5 ideas to address avoidance in your Action Project

Wed. Nov. 30: Changing Behavior to Address A Changing Climate

Visiting Scholar, Dr. Heather McGee, Department of Psychology

1. Read: Required: Heward & Chance, Optional: Intro, Response

Mon. Dec. 5: New Media and Climate Change

1. Read: "The Role of New Media in Engaging the Public with Climate Change"

2. Write 3-5 ideas for using new media in your Action Project

Wed. Dec. 7: Green Washing & Culture Jamming

1. Read: Green Washing, images

2. Read: Culture Jamming, samples, Brandalism

3. Write 3-5 ideas for using culture jamming in your Action Project

Dec. 12-16 Finals Week

Thurs. Dec. 15  2:45-4:45: Final: Presentation of Action Projects