Nature and Society

specializations SOCIETY

Purpose and Scope

For over two generations a range of social science and related humanities scholars have focused attention on understanding the historical processes and patterns through which humans interact with, and shape, the environment. A range of epistemological and methodological approaches have been applied that taken together, have developed sophisticated understandings, and knowledge, critical for managing, and ameliorating environmental problems. While diverse, this body of scholarship begins, and ends, with the recognition that all our present ecological challenges arise from deep-seated and historically derived, social structures.

The purpose of Nature and Society specialization is to give today's professional environmental managers a range of theoretical, conceptual, and methodological skills necessary for understanding how to critique, improve and implement models of environmental management that address historically engrained challenges. For these reasons, this specialization expands beyond ahistorical and technical training by focusing students on historical processes, power dynamics and changing societal values. Empirical attention is wide ranging, from legal and institutional perspectives about how we govern society and the environment, to norms, ethics and cultural ideas that shape how we value, and interact with, the natural world. Particular focus is placed on the role that race, ethnicity, class, and gender play in environmental relations and problems. Doing so gives students the skills to pose sophisticated critical questions about our perception of the importance and priority of problems, how we define problems, and what are implications of different solutions. In other words, this specialization asks 'prior questions' that are necessary for understanding the roots of environmental issues.

Specialization Coordinators: Ben Cashore, Amity Doolittle


Two required courses.
F&ES 520Society and Environment: Introduction to Theory and Method
F&ES 643Managing the Environment with People in Mind: Understanding the Contribution of the Social Sciences and Humanities
F&ES 826Foundations of Natural Resource Policy and Management
F&ES 829Global Environmental Governance


Students must take 4 courses from the following 3 areas of inquiry.

Social Science Perspectives

F&ES 520Society and Environment: Introduction to Theory and Method
F&ES 727Food: Science, Law & Policy
F&ES 742Fundamentals of Working with People
F&ES 764Environment, Culture, Morality, and Politics
F&ES 772Social Justice in the Global Food System
F&ES 826Foundations of Natural Resource Policy and Management
F&ES 829Global Environmental Governance
F&ES 839Social Science of Conservation and Development
F&ES 846Perspectives on Environmental Injustices
F&ES 850International Organizations and Conferences
F&ES 877Anthropology of the Global Economy for Conservation and Development
F&ES 965Advanced Readings: Social Science of Development and Conservation

Humanities: History, Religion and Ethics

F&ES 774Agriculture: Origins, Evolution, Crises
F&ES 857Environmental History and Values
F&ES 876Indigenous Traditions and the Environment

Ecological and Conservation Science

F&ES 530Ecosystem and Landscapes
F&ES 659The Practice of Silviculture: Principles in Applied Forest Ecology (Friday field trips)
F&ES 660Forest Stand Dynamics
F&ES 723Wetlands Ecology, Conservation & Management
F&ES 741Introduction to Indigenous Silviculture
F&ES 752Ecology and Conservation of Tropical Forests
F&ES 888Ecological Urban Design
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