Environmental sociology remains on the periphery of the discipline. On the one hand this comes from a concern with the material rather than social world, or with human-nature relations. On the other hand, the peripheral position of environmental sociology also comes from emphasizing what nature or natural science can tell us about what is wrong in society. In terms of pedagogy, the latter focus has tied environmental sociology to the conservationist and preservationist poles of environmental movements more than it has engaged environmental social movement dynamics or historical changes in the ideas and politics of nature. More recently, with the emergence of environmental racism and justice movements, indigenous political ecology struggles in the global South, and new forms of international political coalitions, environmental sociology has become more traditionally sociological with respect to the categories of political economy, race, ethnicity, development, and social change. At the same time that the discipline moves in more materialist directions, contemporary environmental sociology is in need of scholarship from science studies, materialist feminism, and global development. This paper will review contemporary visions of the history of nature, the environmental movement, and environmental sociology. In doing so, it will suggest a means of using O’Connor’s (1988, 1989) political ecological theory of environmental problems to under gird environmental pedagogy. Two strategies are stressed. The first combines social and environmental history in coursework, non-class exercises and writing. The second pursues undergraduate research into the social and ecological history of “natural” places, such as woods and parks, and “social” places, like blocks of student rentals and campus buildings.
|Journal||American Behavioral Scientist|
|State||Published - Dec 2007|