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SOCL527: Ecology, Conservation and Culture
Course Convenor: Claire Waterton
Aims and Scope
This module looks sociologically at the ideas and practices associated with the term ‘ecology’. We explore the multiple roots of the very idea of ecology - for example, ecology as a set of material interactions in nature, ecology as prescription for societal relations, ecology as political and social movements. In the course we learn how to trace these ideas within different discourses, representations and practices. We look historically at the development of the idea of ‘ecology’, up to the 20th century when ecology became a science crafted to serve the needs of the modern state and society. We examine the way this science has influenced ways of knowing, and ways of directing action upon, the natural and social world. Ideas of ecology inform, particularly, the idea of ‘conservation’. We look for ‘the social’ within policies and practices of conservation and explore the way in which these affect and re-order the lives of many humans and non-humans. The course draws upon constructivist perspectives of science, technology and nature that are well established in the social sciences (e.g. Cronon 1995, Szerszynski et al 1996, Macnaghten and Urry 1997, Castree and Braun 2001, Castree 2005, Demeritt 2006). As such it offers critical tools with which to think through the ways in which ecology and conservation both reflect and perform particular orderings of nature and society.
One 5,000 word essay.
Adams, W. and Mulligan, M. (eds.) (2002) Decolonising Conservation, London: Earthscan.
I came to Lancaster University in 2012 with high expectations about studying in a research intensive programme and I found these expectations were met in the module, Ecology Conservation and Culture (SOCL 527). As part of my MA in Sociology training I took this module and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had the opportunity to explore various ideas around ecology and conservation from a sociological point of view. Moreover not only discourses but also representations and practices in ecology and conservation were addressed. Each week, there were plenty of opportunities to discuss ecological and conservation knowledges and the issues raised, thanks to the variety of references provided. What I valued the most, however, was in fact to have had the opportunity of sharing with classmates from different cultural and academic backgrounds. I think this particular module grabs the attention of students from different areas and provides strong opportunities for dialogue and building upon different frameworks. -Derly Yohanna Sßnchez Vargas,
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