Power, Privilege, and the Environment

Professor: Sarah Jaquette Ray
Institution: Humboldt State University
Course Number: Environmental Studies 295

Power, Privilege, and the Environment
Spring 2015

Course Description
Among environmentalists and ENST students, I often hear variations on the comment: “who cares about social justice (or women’s rights, or land sovereignty, or civil liberties, or you fill in the blank) if we don’t have a planet?”  This question helps us frame a debate within the environmental movement: is social justice necessary for environmental sustainability, or does it detract from solving environmental problems?  Is environmentalism a politics of the privileged? Should environmentalism address issues of gender, race, sexuality, disability, geographical agency, religion, socio-economic class, ethnicity, colonial status, and age? What good are social theories about power and privilege to the environmental movement, much less to solving our gravest environmental problems? These questions will underlie our inquiries in this course. We will explore these questions through readings, discussion, films, skype visits from experts, Sherman Alexie’s lecture, and written and oral assignments.

Full syllabus (PDF): ASLE_Syllabi_PowerPrivilegeRay