SOS320 - Society & Sustainability

Pre-requisites: Sustainability or Business Sustainability major: SOS 110 and SOS 111 (or PUP 190), with a grade of C or better; OR Non-sustainability major with 2 of the following courses: SOS 100, SOS 110, SOS 111 (or PUP 190), SOS 300 with C or better

The main goal of this course is to develop your understanding of the social, political, and cultural dimensions of sustainability from interdisciplinary perspectives, and at a variety of spatial and temporal scales. This course is divided into three major units: (i.) the theoretical foundations; (ii.) critical analysis of sustainability challenges; and (iii.) problem-solving strategies at different scales. Unit I will provide an overview of major concepts related to the human-environmental relationships. Unit II will use approaches, insights, and methods drawn from anthropology, geography, sociology, and political science to understand and analyze various sustainability challenges. Unit III will emphasize various problem-solving strategies to address sustainability challenges at different scales: individual, household, local community, national and international.

This is a writing-intensive course with a significant amount of readings to advance students’ critical thinking quality, especially evidence-based writing and communication skills. This course expects students to apply their knowledge and training in sustainability to understand and address real world sustainability challenges.

Course Objectives

After taking this course, students should be able to understand, evaluate, and discuss the following while applying and considering the overarching themes noted above:

  • Introduce theories, methods, and real-world applications used by social scientists to study the dynamics of human-environment interactions;
  • Examine the social drivers as well as the social implications of major sustainability challenges;
  • Discuss the concepts and interrelationships among values, beliefs, norms, rules, and behavior; as well as perceptions, knowledge and multiple ways of knowing;
  • Evaluate the social justice components of environmental and sustainability challenges;
  • Develop interpersonal and collaborative skills to effectively communicate sustainability issues;
  • Advance critical thinking skills of students, encouraging them to clearly articulate social perspectives on sustainability challenges and to make sensible problem solving strategies.

Required Textbooks and Readings

  • Moran, Emilio. 2006. People and Nature: An Introduction to Human Ecological Relations. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
  • Robbins, Paul, John Hintz, & Sarah A. Moore. 2014. Environment and Society: A Critical Introduction. The 2nd Edition. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell