SOS320 - Society & Sustainability

Course Descriptions

Society is at the heart of sustainability. The three spheres of sustainability—planet, people, and prosperity—are all dependent on how society views the planetary boundaries and responds to their sustainability challenges. Solid understanding of societal roles, therefore, is crucial in addressing sustainability challenges. The main goal of this course is to establish an understanding of the socio-economic, cultural, and political dimensions of sustainability from interdisciplinary perspectives, and at a variety of spatial and temporal scales.

This is a Literacy and Critical Inquiry - L course with a significant load of readings aimed at advancing critical thinking of students, especially evidence-based writing and communication skills. It challenges and prepares students to apply their sustainability training to better understand societal roles in addressing key sustainability challenges.

Course Objectives and Learning Outcomes

The course objectives are to 1) survey the social drivers, complexities, and justice components of major sustainability challenges, and 2) advance critical thinking and communication skills.

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • summarize fundamental theories used in studying the human-environmental relations

  • analyze social drivers of sustainability issues and describe societal roles in those issues

  • distinguish different ethical viewpoints and competing narratives influencing sustainability

  • describe the significance of the social contexts under which decision-making takes place and the role of public and stakeholder participation in the decision-making process, and

  • develop a collaborative project that examines and addresses some local sustainability challenges.

Required Textbooks and Readings

  • Moran, Emilio. (2017). People and Nature: An Introduction to Human Ecological Relations. The 2nd Edition. Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell. ISBN-13: 9781118877470

  • Robbins, Paul, John Hintz, & Sarah A. Moore. (2014). Environment and Society: A Critical Introduction. The 2nd Edition. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN: 9781118451564