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Semester 1

Environmentalism: past and present (STIS08010)


Science, Technology and Innovation Studies





Normal Year Taken


Delivery Session Year



Course Summary

What are the roots of our concern for the environment? What did environmental activism look like in the 1960s, the 1930s or even the 1870s? This course will offer a survey of where environmentalism has come from and where it is going.

Course Description

The goal of the course is to provide students with a deeper appreciation for the history of environmentalism. We will learn about links between the development of the sciences of the environment and environmentalism as a social movement. Our geographical focus in this course will be on Europe and North America. However, we will also locate and interrogate how environmental concern and policy has developed in various parts of the globe. In all our topics we will note the experiences and contributions of different identity groups. In doing so, we will consider the impact of and reactions to European imperialism and postcolonial globalisation. We will also examine and critique the role of the United Nations and other international organisations in environmental affairs. This course will introduce and survey three historical processes and their interconnections: the science of ecology, the growth of environmental activism and the development of national and international environmental regulation. The topics covered in the course will comprise sources ranging from the European Enlightenment to the present day. In the process, we will examine a blend of primary sources and scholarly theory and analysis. The course is taught through two lectures and one tutorial per week. Students are also assigned readings, podcasts and videos linked to the week's theme. Tutorials are largely organised around discussions and activities concerning the content of the lectures and readings from the week before. Where possible, we may visit sites in central Edinburgh to illuminate our discussions. Students will also learn about personal reflective practices that will help them to improve as students and to prepare themselves for Honours-level work.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 100%, Practical Exam 0%

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