Barbara Whitten, ,
Welcome to ecofeminism! This class connects ideas about feminism and social justice with those of environmental degradation, using domination as a common theme. We'll look at potential links between the domination of women by men, of people of color by white people, of people of the Global South by those of the North, and of the natural world by human beings. We will study environmental issues in this broader framework. This block we will focus on the linked issues of sustainability and global climate change. We'll examine both the local and global aspects of these issues, as well as the relationship between these two levels.
Private four-year institution, primarily undergraduate
"Ecofeminism" is crosslisted between the Environmental and Feminist and Gender Studies Programs. It is a 200-level class, and draws everyone from freshmen to seniors. Probably half the students are environmental majors with the remaining half evenly divided between FGS majors and random students.
An important component of the class is service learning. I have done this in different ways, sometimes asking the students to structure their own volunteer time in on-campus and community activities. I provide a list of possibilities, and also allow them to choose, with my approval. I encourage students to do something new, but don't try to keep them from counting activities they already participate in. I have also worked with a peace and justice organization in Colorado Springs to organize activities for the students—they have done things like work in the their homeless shelter, prepare and plant a community garden, and distribute food to the homeless.
While I like this class very much and think it means a lot to many students, there are a couple of problems. One is structural; the students have such a wide variation in their understanding of feminism. The FGS majors are quite sophisticated in their feminist analysis, but many of the environmental majors don't really see what gender has to do with environmental issues. It's hard to know how to bridge that gap and I don't think I always succeed.
The second issue is finding appropriate reading. Gender has really disappeared from much environmental analysis, and feminist material often deals with social issues, but not with environmental issues. There is some great theory by people like Vandana Shiva and Joni Seager, but it's not contemporary. Though these issues have not changed significantly, I feel bad assigning 20-year-old materials.
Syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 168kB Mar15 13)
References and Notes: