October 9, 2016

Sustainable Consumption Teaching: Environmental Justice

  • Lecturer: Manisha Anantharaman
  • Program: Justice Community and Leadership
  • Duration: 1 semester (16 weeks)
  • Class size: 22-25 students
  • Focus: Focused on the complex relationship between humans and the environment, specifically examining how everyday choices, individual behaviors, built infrastructures, and policies and institutions affect the environment, and consequently our global human community. While consumption is not the main focus of the course, through the consumption lens students reflect on their relationship to the environment.
  • Themes:
    1. global ecosystem and the anthropogenic problems;
    2. reflecting on environmentalism and justice in relation to different cultures and contexts;
    3. and consideration for social rules and complexities when it comes to systemic transformation.
  • Student evaluation: Various modalities, including examinations; guided reflections on readings, community engagement, issues discussed in class; community engagement; film review and fact checking; literature review; advocacy and informative presentation, based on the literature review
  • Course evaluation: Overall students have responded positively to the course. The consumption dimensions has proven to be a good way of getting student engagement with environmental topics.
  • Novel approaches:
    • Receipts exercise: in week 2 of the class, students collect receipts from all their purchases for a week, as well as things “consumed” (but not necessarily purchased) and bring these to class. Students are then engaged in a guided meditation exercise followed by a free-write to contemplate on their consumption practices.
    • Ecological footprint calculation and comparison: students calculate their ecological footprints and them compare it to footprints in other countries.
    • In-class debates on ways to reduce consumption – policy vs. behavioural incentives etc.
    • Course includes 20h of community service, either in a local garden (The Legacy Garden) or Campus Sustainability.
  • Challenge: Finding materials that link consumption to questions of justice in the distribution of resources and environmental burdens.
  • Further resources: Syllabus:  Sustainable Consumption Teaching Environmental Justice (47 downloads)

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