Spring 2015 - LBST 311 D100

Labour and the Environment (3)

Class Number: 4052

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 6 – Apr 13, 2015: Thu, 11:30 a.m.–2:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 19, 2015
    Sun, 3:30–6:30 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    Strongly recommended: Labour Studies 101 and 30 credit hours.



The changing relationships between unions and environmental groups; how work in various industries contribute to climate change; and how climate-change policies affect workers in different ways. The consequences of climate policies for different categories of workers, identified by economic sector, geographic location, gender, ethnicity, and Aboriginal status.


Climate change has significant impacts on the nature of work and working people. Conversely, workers have a vital role to play in determining politically how the issues associated with climate change will be addressed. As the world’s climate goes through radical changes, workers face unprecedented challenges as governments craft policy to mitigate or adapt to the many dimensions of global warming. This course will present a framework for evaluating and responding to alternative visions of a "just transition" and a "paradigm shift" and will survey what is known about the effects of climate change and relevant policies on the working world — with a focus on Canada and British Columbia.

The course will critically examine the changing and sometimes controversial relationships between trade unions, environmental groups and other political and economic forces, how work in various industries contributes to climate change, and how climate-change policies affect workers in different ways. The course will pursue an understanding of the consequences of climate policies for different categories of workers, identified by economic sector, geographic location, gender, migration and immigration, and Aboriginal status.


By the end of this course, students will have learned:
• how workers’ organizations are responding to climate change;
• how work practices can become more environmentally responsible;
• how government policy on climate change affects work and workers;
• how different types of work contribute to climate change;
• what alternatives there are.


  • Seminar participation and presentation: 15%
  • Mid-term Exam, February 26: 20%
  • Research Essay (due in 3 stages), Feb. 5, March 12, April 9: 40%
  • Final Exam 25%


There will be a midterm and a final exam in this course. Term research essays will total approximately 2500 to 3500 words (ten to twelve pages) and rely on a minimum of eight substantive sources (e.g. academic journal articles). Research papers will be completed in three stages – proposal, draft outline and final paper – with topics to be selected from those covered in the course syllabus and in the required or recommended readings. Seminar participation is integral to the course. Presentation will consist of the preparation of discussion questions for reading. Presentation dates will be assigned at the first meeting of the course. All assignments in this course must be completed for a final grade to be assigned.


All students are expected to read SFU’s policies concerning academic honesty and student conduct [S 10.01 and S10.04]. The policies can be read at this website: www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student.html .



Ayres, Robert U. and Allen V. Kneese (1969) "Production, Consumption, and Externalities," The American Economic Review, 59, 3, pp. 282-297.

Burgmann, Verity and Andrew Milner (2011) "Ecotopians in Hardhats: The Australian Green Bans Movement," Utopian Studies, 22, 1.

Carson, Rachel (1962 [2002]) Silent Spring, Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Costanza, Robert (1980) "Embodied Energy and Economic Valuation," Science, New Series, Vol. 210, No. 4475, pp. 1219-1224.

Ford, James et al. (2006) "Vulnerability to Climate Change in the Arctic: A case study from Arctic Bay, Canada," Global Environmental Change 16, pp. 145-160.

Hardin, Garrett (1968) "The Tragedy of the Commons," Science 162:13, pp. 1243-48.

Hueting, Roefie. (1996) "Three persistent myths in the environmental debate," Ecological Economics 18, pp. 81-88.

Jackson, Tim. (2009) Prosperity without Growth, U. K. Sustainable Development Commission.

Ostrom, Elinor (2010) "Beyond Markets and States: Polycentric Governance of Complex Economic Systems," American Economic Review 100, pp. 641-672.

Pietilä, Hilkka, (1997) "The Triangle of the Human Economy: Household - Cultivation - Industrial Production," Ecological Economics 20, 113-127.

Polimeni, John M. and Raluca Iorgulescu Polimeni (2006) "Jevons’ Paradox and the Myth of Technological Liberation," Ecological Complexity 3, pp. 344-353.

Rosemberg, Anabella and Lora Verheecke (2011) "Green Growth and the Need for a Paradigm Shift: challenges for achieving social justice in a resource-limited world," in Exiting from the crisis: towards a model of more equitable and sustainable growth. European Trade Union Institute, pp. 235-241.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html