ENST 301: Environmental Justice
Instructor: Gisela Heffes, Associate Professor of Latin American Literature and Culture
While environmental justice can be defined as “the right of all people to share equally in the benefits bestowed by a healthy environment,” as Joni Adamson and Mei Mei Evans suggest, it is well known that the impacts of environmental degradation are distributed unevenly along the lines of race, class, gender, and ethnicity. This grim reality is worsened by a rapidly changing climate. If we are collectively experiencing a time of unprecedented transition, those rendered vulnerable by structural inequalities are likely to experience the worst impacts of this transition.
This class will explore the intersection of environmental and social justice issues through an analysis of literary fiction, documentaries and films, art, and other media. We will study how environmental issues are deeply connected with issues of race, class, gender, ethnicity, and the legacies of colonialism. We will also consider the generative potential of the arts for imagining an alternative socioeconomic and culture paradigm predicated on environmental sustainability and economic and social equity.
This class is profoundly interdisciplinary, bringing together knowledge from all parts of your life. By the end of this course, you will see many connections between literary studies, environmental ethics, social justice, and civic engagement.