February 3, 2016

“The Politics of Sustainable Consumption”, Yale-NUS College (Singapore)/Semester at Sea program (since tbd)

  • Lecturer: Michael Maniates
  • Program: undergraduate degree in Social Science
  • Duration: one semester, 3 credits; Class size: 12
  • Focus: “enhance our ability to think more systematically about power, politics and policymaking, and to draw on our growing ability to think about politics to analyze the sometimes contradictory theories of power and social change within the sustainable consumption discourse.”
  • Theories: diverse, ranging from structure vs agency debate, collaborative consumption, political science, institutional, cultural perspectives.
  • Novel approach: a variety of activities for each class, including ‘Deep reading, weekly blogging, a final action project’. The notion of field-studies and field-labs, based on student experiences in different ‘ports’; reflecting on this experience towards US context, where most students are from.
  • Student evaluation: A field lab / 4 in-port reflections (20%), 3 take-home exams (60%), brief response paper to core readings (5%), and 15 in-class assignments that model practical application of course material (15%).
  • Course evaluation: favorably received; “course puts into words what many of them feel”.
  • Reading list: available. Main reading materials draw from T. Jackson (2006), Princen, et al (2002), The Worldwatch Institute (Erik Assadourian, editor) (2010). “Looking for additional literature on the politics of socio-technical change (and theories of social change that correspondent to these politics) suitable for undergraduates”
  • Challenge: tension between theory and practice; “theories of politics (e.g. elite action/citizen organizing) remain elusive; how do we get from here to there”