pedagogy

Innovation or Retreatism: What should students in environmental studies be learning? (part 3)

In case readers have missed parts 1 and 2 of this series, here’s the summary: In Innovation or Retreatism: What should students in environmental studies be learning? (part 1), I introduced Robert K. Merton’s structural strain theory of deviance as a possible way of thinking about how those of us in the field of environmental studies, especially those who teach a political economy perspective, should be talking about individual and societal responses to environmental crisis. The basic idea is that Merton’s structural strain theory might be creatively employed by considering some sort of sustainable society our goal with individual behavior change and policy reform serving as the two dominant approaches to achieving the goal.  (more…)

Shorter showers or pipeline protests? The personal paradox in teaching Environmental Studies

What would you insist that a student taking an introductory environmental studies course learn? When I teach “Environment and Society,” the foundational course in the University of San Francisco’s Environmental Studies Program, I like to offer a final exam that asks students to read Forget Shorter Showers, a piece by Derrick Jensen that appeared in Orion way back in 2009. Then I ask students to critique Jensen’s argument that individuals taking shorter showers is NOT, ultimately, going to solve the environmental crisis. (more…)