Spring 2020 - SA 371 D100

The Environment and Society (SA) (4)

Class Number: 3134

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 6 – Apr 9, 2020: Thu, 1:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Nicholas Scott
    Office: AQ 5100
    Office Hours: Th 11:30-13:00
  • Prerequisites:

    SA 101 or 150 or 201W.



An examination of environmental issues in their social context. Environmental issues are on the leading edge of contemporary public concern and public policy debates. This course will examine such issues as the relationship between social organization and mode of subsistence, the politics of hunger, and the way in which human societies in their particular social, historical, and cultural contexts view and interact with the natural world.


SA 371 investigates human-driven environmental crises redefining cities, politics and culture in Vancouver and sites around the globe. This course explores the factors underlying environmental conflicts such as urban sprawl, climate change, biodiversity loss, environmental injustice and fossil fuel-driven automobility. It also investigates positive efforts to address these crises, ranging from technical fixes such as electric, self-driving cars and high density living to more complicated interventions such as rewilding the built environment.

Theoretically, the course asks, what is the environment really worth? How does the more-than-human environment become political? How do nonhuman beings relate to, and contest, anthropocentric understandings of the common good? How can humans reconnect with wilderness? Does it matter? Using Vancouver as a case study, students will grapple with these questions by exploring a variety of local sites and real world struggles over oil and gas pipelines, animal captivity and control, wilderness parks, Aboriginal title and the production of sustainable mobilities. These site explorations may require travel by public transit, cycling or on foot.

Finally, the course explores the political factors that drive humans to mobilize against environmentalism, including social inequity, colonialism, industrial inefficiency and neoliberal capitalism. Students will leave the course with conceptual and methodological tools to challenge artificial barriers between society and nature and document environmental change.


  • Book review essay and presentation 30%
  • Class participation and précis 30%
  • Final analytical project 40%


Grading: Where a final exam is scheduled and the student does not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, an N grade will be assigned. Unless otherwise specified on the course syllabus, all graded assignments for this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned. An N is considered as an F for the purposes of scholastic standing.

Grading System: The Undergraduate Course Grading System is as follows:

A+ (95-100) | A (90-94) | A- (85-89) | B+ (80-84) | B (75-79) | B- (70-74) | C+ (65-69) | C (60-64) | C- (55-59) | D (50-54) | F (0-49) | N*
*N standing to indicate the student did not complete course requirements

Academic Dishonesty and Misconduct Policy: The Department of Sociology & Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic dishonesty and misconduct procedures (S10.01‐S10.04). Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style.  It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website.

Centre for Accessible Learning: Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need classroom or exam accommodations are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (1250 Maggie Benston Centre) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.



All required readings will be available on Canvas.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/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