Environmental Studies & English 4120 -- Fall 2021
Cultural Studies and Climate Change
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. The emergency of the global COVID pandemic has been a kind of fire drill for the climate crisis, emphasizing the the importance of science, the relatedness of all human communities, and the necessity of collaboration and changing behavior.
A cultural studies approach to understanding the climate crisis can foster a deeper understanding of the human social systems that cause global heating 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 tools from the humanities, social sciences, and the sciences to consider: the global impact, history, politics, and ethics of global warming; imagined representations of warming in the future and their relevance to the present; and, 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 is not only dominated by the rise of global capitalism, but also the history of invasion, genocide, slavery, colonialism, and ongoing inequality and exploitation. As Kathryn Yusoff puts in A Billon Black Anthropocenes or None.
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!
Students in this course are expected to keep up with current events regarding the course theme. I urge you to take advantage of the WMU library making the NY Times available to WMU students for free. The Guardian is also a good news source, especially on climate issues, and can also be accessed for free.
Much of the writing for this course will be in a public voice and with public reach. The course is intended to develop your ideas, your capacity to share ideas, your commitment to preserving life on earth, and your capacity to make a difference. 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.
This course will also follow WMU COVID-19 Vacine Policy. WMU has many resources to foster student health and well being.
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.
Wed Sep 1: Introductions
Wed Sep 8: Our Climate Future
Mon Sep 13: Our Climate Future, Cont'd
Wed Sep 15: Our Climate Future, Cont'd
Mon Sep 20: Africa, Asia & Latin America
Wed Sep 22: Africa, Asia, & Latin America Cont'd
Mon Sep 27: Africa, Asia, & Latin America Cont'd
Wed Sep 29: Africa, Asia, & Latin America Cont'd
Mon Oct 4: Climate Refugees
Wed Oct 6: Community Involvement Panel
Mon Oct 11: Climate Refugees Cont'd
Wed Oct 13: Imagining the Future
Mon Oct 18: Imagining the Future Cont'd
Oct 20-22: Fall Break
Mon Oct 25: Imagining the Future Cont'd
Wed Oct 27: Imagining the Future Cont'd
Mon Nov 1: Imagining the Future Cont'd
Wed Nov 3: Strategies For Saving the Future
Mon Nov 8: Climate Action & Justice
Wed Nov 10: Climate Action & Justice Cont'd
Mon Nov 15: Issues of Climate Justice
Wed Nov 17: Issues of Climate Justice Cont'd
Mon Nov 22: Issues of Climate Justice Cont'd
Wed Nov 24-25: Thanksgiving Break
Mon Nov 29: Social Movements
Read: This is an Uprising Chapters 1-4.
Wed Dec 1: Social Movements Cont'd
Read: This is an Uprising Chapters 6-7
Mon Dec 6: Social Movements Cont'd
Read: This is an Uprising Chapters 7-Conclusion
Wed Dec 8: Social Movements Cont'd
Read: Selection from How to Blow Up a Pipeline
Dec. 13-16 Finals Week
Thurs Dec 16 2:45-4:45: Final Exam