Political and Socioeconomic Dimensions of Environment

SFS 3040

Political and Socioeconomic Dimensions of Environment

4 credits

In 2008, Bhutan’s government shifted from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional democratic monarchy, part of a longer trend of devolution of authority from an absolute monarch to the people and communities. Since most of the population reside in rural areas, sustainable management of natural resources is critical for achieving the dual goals of rural development and biodiversity conservation. In this course, we examine the socio-cultural, political, and economic dimensions of Bhutan’s approach to development, with a focus on environment. We will use the interdisciplinary lens of political ecology to frame lines of inquiry and define research questions on the nature-society nexus. In this course, we focus on human interactions with and impacts on local ecosystems, and vice versa. By using Bhutan as an example, the course provides a conceptual framework for understanding how nature-society interactions, such as agriculture, water management, biodiversity conservation and utilization, and rural development shape both the natural landscape and the social and economic conditions in rural and urban areas. Because these interactions can be simultaneously social, cultural, economic, and ecological, holistic critical thinking is essential to understand these systems to enable us to propose solutions that make sense. The course provides the conceptual and practical skills and tools to critically examine and assess the human-environment nexus in the field. We also consider the theories and ethics of sustainable and unsustainable development and the need to view these issues in ways that are inclusive and just.

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Himalayan Environment and Society in Transition

18 Weeks
15 Credits
Spring 2024
Jan 30 - May 10
In the Field
Fall 2024
Sep 4 - Dec 15
Filling Fast
Spring 2025
Jan 27 - May 9