Writing 101

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Instruction in the complexities of producing sophisticated academic argument, with attention to critical analysis and rhetorical practices.

“Chasing Sustainability?: Environmental History, Ethics, and the Question of Justice”

Class Overview from Professor Tara Kelly

"This class is going to explore that question by exploring its history, which is a tale of two movements: the mainstream environmental movement, which is overwhelmingly white and middle-class and which gave birth to “sustainability,” and its upstart opponent, the environmental justice movement. The EJ movement emerged in the late 1970s as working-class communities, often populated mainly by people of color, began organizing to fight polluters and politicians for the sake of their communities. They raised difficult questions about what we do with the toxic byproducts of the lives we lead, even as they challenged the common wisdom of epidemiologists, legislators and mainstream environmental groups. To the promises offered by “sustainability,” they reply, always, “but what about justice?” Over time, their challenge has become part of our conversations about issues ranging from public health and hunger in America to how we should understand the impact of climate change.

In this course we’ll be exploring the contentious relationship between these two movements and how that history informs our current debates over justice and sustainability. We’ll be reading quite a few texts by historians, but we’ll also explore online sources and documentary film. There will be reading responses and reflective pieces throughout the semester to help you engage with the sources. There will also be two writing projects, a pathfinder and a position paper/analysis, both based on topics of your choice, and you’ll have multiple chances to receive feedback on your writing as well as time to revise thoroughly. By the end of the course, my hope is that you will have a better appreciation for the historical roots and current-day complexities that underlie the relationship between justice and sustainability, and feel more confident in your ability to communicate complex ideas clearly and persuasively to readers."