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Skidmore College
First-Year Experience

Scribner Seminar Program
Course Description

Sustainability and Social Justice*

Instructor(s): Kelly Melekis, Social Work

We are living in an era of ecological crisis, which raises many questions about the justice of our responses. Why have certain people been disproportionately affected by environmental hazards? What is the relationship between poverty and natural disasters? Is climate change a human rights issue? How can we create a more just and sustainable future? This course will introduce students to interdisciplinary perspectives on the inter-connections between social injustice and environmental problems. Students will examine a range of social-scientific approaches to understanding these connections, drawing on environmental justice literature written from feminist, post-colonial, political economy, and environmentalist perspectives. Social categories of class, race and gender, and unequal or unjust power relations between people will provide a framework for our analysis of environmental problems in the US and around the world. We will try to determine the root causes of the problems as well as potential policy or political solutions for bringing about more just and sustainable outcomes.

*For the fourth credit hour, this seminar will participate in FYE ID, designed to educate students about power, privilege, and social identities, and to help them develop dialogue and reflection skills to engage productively with and across social differences. This weekly program consists of six lectures alternating across the semester with six small-group discussions.

Course Offered: