It is common, now, to hear about the climate crisis, the species extinction crisis, and the plastic waste crisis. Are we really facing a crisis? What does it mean to be in crisis? Are they connected somehow? How should we respond? In this course, we look at how the social systems - politics, economy, culture - in the industrialized world are undermining the Earth's life support systems on which we and very other species completely depend. Our starting  point is our own personal involvement in those social processes through our ecological footprint analysis; from there we branch out to examine the broader social systems that are now global in scope. We will learn that consumer society of the Western world is unsustainable, that we have very little time to turn things around, and that a different, sustainable world is possible.

Earth is becoming increasingly destabilized as a planetary system that  has supported human civilization for the past 10,000 years. This is the  result of complex interactions between human societies and the natural  world within which they are embedded. To understand the current  ecological/climate crises, we need to understand these interactions.   This course is an introduction to the societal processes that are  interfering with the Earth's regulatory systems that allow all life to  thrive, and the implications of that human interference. Our starting  point is our own personal involvement in those social processes through  our ecological footprint analysis; from there we link our personal  actions to broader cultural-economic systems that are now global in  scope.

Praxis can be understood as reflection and action for social change. Drawing on learning in ENVS 1013, students will investigate how global environmental problems are manifested at the local level. They will then develop local action strategies to effect change in those systems. This approach will foster citizenship skills and empower students in the face of global problems. This course will qualify for the STU Experiential Learning Certificate. Prerequisite: ENVS 1013.

The course is aimed at deepening students’ understanding of environmental praxis through both critical texts and collective practice. Students will have the opportunity to meet, question and potentially collaborate with members of community and environmental groups. Some classes may involve outside classroom work and participation in the community. Students are expected to do assigned readings, submit weekly assignments and participate in class discussion of readings and assignments.


Environmental and social problems associated with what is known as "extreme energy" and resource extraction, particularly mining, shale gas development, the tar sands and bitumen pipelines, in the context of capitalism and climate change will be used as the underlying theme for praxis application but other environmental topics will be explored throughout the course as well. Students will critically evaluate elements of praxis while designing elements of a popular educational campaign on an environmental problem.

This Moodle site contains several environmental issue case studies compiled by Prof. Harvey for use in her course, Introduction to Environmental Perspectives.  Students in ENVS 2023 should enroll in this "course" as well as ENVS 2023.