In its English translation as “house” or “household,” the Greek word Oikos provides the shared prefix for both ecology and economy. This common root encourages attentiveness to the equitable care and maintenance of the “Earth-Household” we similarly share in common with human and non-human neighbors and relations. Taking inspiration from this intersection of eco and ego, the two courses in this pod explore justice, equity, and sustainability in the nested sites of Oikos–at the scale of domestic and community economy, on the one hand, and at the scale of the global distribution of environmental and ecological burdens, on the other.
Enrollment Requirements and Options:
Students in this pod may enroll in online coursework.
This pod includes the following courses:
Social Economy 3 cr
The dominant economic paradigm of corporate global capitalism has imposed a narrow and limited vision of what constitutes beneficial economic behavior and activity. This narrow logic defines economic benefit primarily as that which yields profit or maximizes efficiency in competitive markets. A prevailing “market fundamentalism” has colonized domains of being far beyond the strictly economic, however, subordinating other societal concerns to market-oriented goals and logics. Through exploring formations and relations that “re-embed” economic activity in their social matrix, in this course we will explore the “social economy” as an alternative to the mainstream “free” market economy. The social economy can be broadly understood as activities centered in cooperation, solidarity, mutualism and “being in common”, or as “economic activities oriented to meeting individual and collective needs . . . organized through various kinds of voluntary associations within communities” (Olin Wright). Magnifying the relationships embedded in the global economic system, expressions of social economy offer possibilities for more just, equitable, and sustainable social-economic relationships and behaviors.
Environmental Justice Beyond Borders 3 cr
Communities around the world are faced with environmental issues such as an influx of pollutants, loss of habitat and biodiversity, increasing health issues and changing climates. Strategies to address these issues may be considered effective but might lead to environmental injustices. As humans attempt to address global environmental issues, are we cognizant of environmental justice implications? Can we protect biodiversity, restore ecosystems, and/or develop sustainable communities without impacts to others?
As a 400 level course, Environmental Justice Beyond Borders provides a forum for students to culminate their Sterling classroom and field experiences by exploring global issues through both social and ecological lens. Conversations with people around the world will give insight into these issues.