Environment, Nature & Society A

Module code: GY1018

Module co-ordinator: Professor Susan Page

Module Outline

Environmentalists are often accused of being unrealistic and demanding the impossible. Yet we ask ourselves the question ‘what kind of world would we like?’ too little. If we considered it a little more we might be taking bigger steps towards curbing our environmental impact and seeking environmental justice. Environmental issues affect all places and societies; the urban and the rural, the rich and the poor; nobody is unaffected. The environment matters and our impact upon it is obvious, from the air that we breathe to the energy that we use. Despite this we are faced with a wide array of environmental problems, from global climate change to river pollution, from water supply issues to genetic crop modification. To understand why this is, in this module we explore: how we value the environment and the different philosophical approaches to environmental issues; the complexity of scale of environmental issues; different strategies for action; what a focus on ‘the environment’ ignores; and finally what positive steps we should take. The module investigates key environmental challenges that people face today, including climate change and atmospheric pollution, biodiversity loss, water resource management, ocean changes, land degradation and land management. These will be tackled by looking at their physical basis, human impacts and management strategies.

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the the end of this module, students should be able to:

  • Identify and articulate the different relationships between humans and their environment and how the concept of the environment has changed over time
  • Evaluate the concept of 'geographies of sustainability' and what particular perspectives and skills geographers bring to an understanding of the environment
  • Demonstrate a broad awareness of how the physical and human environments interact, how people change the physical environment, and how these changes feed back on societies
  • Describe and evaluate the key challenges arising from climate change, land degradation, ocean changes, biodiversity loss, atmospheric pollution and freshwater resources

Teaching and Learning Methods

Lectures, Directed Reading and Independent Study.

Assessment Methods

  • 2,500 word essay 
  • Group poster