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Designed and Developed at the Pratt Institute

Environmental Justice (SUST-420)

Why do some people live and work in healthy, safe environments and others do not? Who decides? This course addresses the struggles of those who bear the brunt of the planet’s ecological crises. It examines what “justice” and “environment” mean at the intersections of race, class, age, gender and nation. Students explore such topics as the history of environmentalism; imperialism and conquest; access to healthy, affordable food; and representational authority among poor communities of color.

The Human-Animal Relationship (SS-469)

To what extent does the “animal” challenge central assumptions about what it means to be human? This course probes how the modern condition enables the alienation of humans from humans and from nonhuman animal beings. We use ethnographic methods to examine the human-animal relationship in practice, addressing the treatment of animals as pets, for food and entertainment, and in commerce and science. How do these practices shape human-animal futures, knowing many creatures face extinction today? 

Planet Ocean (SUST-430)

Ocean acidification. Exterminated fish. Bleached corals. This course travels to the planet’s last frontier—the ocean—to understand the root causes of its deterioration and to connect to its force and splendor. Students explore islands and waves, empires and economies, nightmares and fantasies among sailors, surfers, scientists, and slaves. Our goal is to make visible the hidden but consequential practices unfolding at sea so that we think the planet beyond land-based perspectives.

What’s News (SSWI 280T, Writing Intensive)

To what extent are citizens informed about how they are governed? What is the role of the news media in this endeavor? This course examines the representation of politics by the news media, and the news media’s involvement in politics. It takes a global perspective to develop basic news literacy skills so that civic-minded citizens discern the difference between news and advertising, news and propaganda, fact and opinion, bias and fairness, assertion and verification, evidence and inference. Students consider the conditions that allow for political communication to be emancipatory and/or restrictive of democratic action in today’s digital age.

Others Formerly Taught at the Pratt Institute

Making/Faking Nature (SSWI-222G, Writing Intensive)

This course explores a wide range of philosophical conceptions of nature, and examines how these theories have influenced the way we treat our environment, animals, and each other. We will consider, among other things, whether nature is dead, if there was ever such a thing as wilderness, whether we can restore or improve nature, and, if so, who should have the power and authority to do so. Readings are selected from a variety of fields in the social sciences and cultural studies.

The Sustainable Core (SS-201T)

The nation and the world face an unprecedented challenge in the 21st century: we need to redesign and rethink much of our way of life to make it sustainable given the planet’s limited and fragile “resources.” This course provides an overview of sustainability by exploring definitions, controversies, trends, and case studies in various systems and locales (urban/rural, local/national/global). Students investigate critical elements of sustainability, including environmental history and urban ecology, sustainable development and landscape transformations, recycling/waste management, ecosystem restoration, and environmental justice.

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