Global Leadership for Environmental Justice

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Course DatesLengthMeeting TimesStatusFormatInstructor(s)CRN
July 19, 2021 - August 18, 20217/19 - 8/184 WeeksOnlineOpenOnlineDanielle Falzon

Course Description

Each year, environmental crises proliferate: fires threatening wildlife and homes in Australia and the United States, an unprecedented number of hurricanes in the Caribbean and devastating typhoons in East Asia, rising seas, destructive resource extraction, and global disease outbreaks. These problems are not solely environmental but the result of complex interactions between society and the environment. Using seven global environmental problems as focal points, this course will delve into how societies created environmental problems and how social inequalities influence who is impacted by their effects. The seven global environmental problems and their associated regions are listed below. Understanding these problems requires an exploration of the histories of colonialism, capitalism, industrialization, and development. Students can expect to learn not only about the environmental problems, but about the world.

The course will take place over four weeks. The first week of the course will cover mining and deforestation. Beginning with colonial conquest in Africa and South America, we will trace historical resource extraction to modern instances of these same practices in these regions. Students will learn the environmental impacts of mining and deforestation, and will explore the issues of labor exploitation, displacement, and health consequences that come with them. The second week will begin with another practice central to modernization efforts: industrial agriculture. We will delve into how industrial agriculture has impacted food production and land use in the United States, as well as how techniques such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides were promoted in agriculture in South Asia to great social detriment.

The course will then shift to environmental changes that are created and exacerbated through human action. We will first explore the increase in destructive storms in Asia and the Caribbean, including societies’ different abilities to respond to, prepare for, and recover from these storms. The third week of the course will then cover the issues of sea level rise and wildfires, both major concerns due to climate change. We will cover the political challenges to addressing sea level rise and wildfires, and how the marginalization of native communities contributes to both of phenomena. Finally, in the fourth week we will cover global disease outbreaks resulting from human interventions into nature, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. This last week we will also wrap up the course and focus on students’ final projects.

Focal issues and regions:

  • Mining (Africa and South America)
  • Deforestation (South America)
  • Industrial Agriculture (North America and South Asia)
  • Cyclones/Typhoons/Hurricanes (Asia and the Caribbean)
  • Sea level rise (Pacific and Europe)
  • Wildfires (Australia and North America)
  • Disease (Global)

Learning Goals:

  1. Connecting the sources of social and environmental problems.
  2. Understanding the historical roots of modern social and environmental problems.
  3. Examining social inequality in environmental impacts.
  4. Identifying environmental problems in the students’ own communities.

    This course will provide a strong foundation in environmental social science and on issues of environmental and social justice. Through these issues, students gain self-insight and global awareness. Students who are interested in environmental studies, public policy, government, community organizing, sociology, and international relations will be particularly interested in this course.


    This course is part of the Leadership Institute Online, a four-week academic program that helps students cultivate the knowledge, skills, and attitudes associated with effective and socially responsible leadership. This unique program consists of two core elements: academic content based on the course of one's choosing and leadership content common to all courses, including the development of an Action Plan.

    Enrollment in this program requires participation in one-hour synchronous or "live" sessions every Tuesday and Thursday from 11:30am Eastern Standard Time (EST) - 12:30pm (EST). Other than participation in these two weekly synchronous or "live" sessions, participation in the course may be completed daily, at any time.

    Additional programmatic information may be found here.

    Prerequisites: This course will not require any prerequisites or background knowledge. Students of all ages and grade levels are welcome.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEEC0926

Program Information

Leadership Institute

Brown's Pre-College Program focused on developing socially responsible leaders and creating positive change. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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