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GEOP700 – Understanding Attitudes to the Environment

2017 – S1 Evening

General Information

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Unit convenor and teaching staff Unit convenor and teaching staff Unit Convenor
Andrew McGregor
Contact via email
W3A 412
by appointment
Credit points Credit points
4
Prerequisites Prerequisites
Admission to MRes
Corequisites Corequisites
Co-badged status Co-badged status
GEOP800
Unit description Unit description
This unit explores the ways in which humans think about nature and environment and how these ideas are formed. Given the diversity of environmental challenges that have emerged from contemporary human-nature relations there is an urgent need to explore the role that human attitudes to nature have had in contributing to these crises, and how changes in attitudes may provide some solutions. To explore these issues this unit draws from social constructionism, environmental ethics and political ecology to explore how ideas about nature and environment are created and contested. The first section of the unit looks at contemporary approaches to nature, their history and complexity. The second section explores environmental ethics and the challenges they pose to these dominant understandings of humans and nature. The final section analyses environmental ethics in society – exploring their relevance to environmental politics and our everyday ways of life.

Important Academic Dates

Information about important academic dates including deadlines for withdrawing from units are available at http://students.mq.edu.au/student_admin/enrolmentguide/academicdates/

Learning Outcomes

  1. Advanced understanding of the core ethical principles underpinning different eco-philosophical approaches.
  2. Ability to reflect upon and develop informed personal environmental attitudes and identify their relevance to practice.
  3. Advanced understanding of the politics surrounding the formation of environmental attitudes.
  4. Advanced understanding of how eco-philosophies can be used in research.
  5. Ability to work as a team and present ethical solutions to contemporary environmental challenges.

General Assessment Information

Written assignments are to be submitted via iLearn.  A late penalty of 5 marks per day will be detracted from an assignment submitted after the due date, unless permission for an extension has previously been granted by the course convenor.  The criteria and standards for each assignment will be made available via iLearn.  Al assessment tasks must be completed in order to pass the unit.

Assessment Tasks

Name Weighting Hurdle Due
Short report 15% 6pm Tuesday 21 March
Critical Reflection 25% 6pm Tuesday 11 April
Eco-philosophy research essay 30% 6pm Tuesday 6 June
Group presentation 20% From week 8 onwards
Group reading task 10% all semester

Short report

Due: 6pm Tuesday 21 March
Weighting: 15%

What is meant by the social construction of nature and why is the concept important?  Write a short one page report that critically analyses how nature is socially constructed in contemporary society. You report should draw on one or more examples from advertising, websites, media, novels, official documents, film, television etc to illustrate your answer.  

This short essay is one page only (use 12 point font) (not including references).  If you would like to attach images they can be included as an Appendix or can be integrated into your one page summary.


This Assessment Task relates to the following Learning Outcomes:
  • Advanced understanding of the core ethical principles underpinning different eco-philosophical approaches.
  • Advanced understanding of the politics surrounding the formation of environmental attitudes.

Critical Reflection

Due: 6pm Tuesday 11 April
Weighting: 25%

Why do you care about the environment?

Write an essay of up to 1500 words that critically reflects on your own attitudes to the environment. Discuss the eco-philosophies that most inform your attitudes and practices.  Draw from the eco-philosophical literature to inform your reflections.


This Assessment Task relates to the following Learning Outcomes:
  • Ability to reflect upon and develop informed personal environmental attitudes and identify their relevance to practice.

Eco-philosophy research essay

Due: 6pm Tuesday 6 June
Weighting: 30%

Write a 2000 word essay that answers ONE of the following questions:

1) How do environmental ethics shape research in your discipline? Draw on case studies to illustrate your answer.

2) Consider your research interests from a particular ethical standpoint (eg more-than-human, ecofeminist, Indigenous, animal rights etc.). How does adopting this standpoint influence how you should conduct your research?

3) Choose a recent research book / special issue of a journal in your interest area. Identify the environmental ethics that inform the research that has been conducted. Do you agree with the ethics involved? How could they be improved?


This Assessment Task relates to the following Learning Outcomes:
  • Advanced understanding of the core ethical principles underpinning different eco-philosophical approaches.
  • Advanced understanding of the politics surrounding the formation of environmental attitudes.
  • Advanced understanding of how eco-philosophies can be used in research.

Group presentation

Due: From week 8 onwards
Weighting: 20%

Environmental issues can be interpreted through a range of different eco-philosophical lenses.  In this assignment you will work with other class members to develop a group presentation that demonstrates your understanding and ability to communicate eco-philosophies by analysing a contemporary environmental issue.  You are welcome to choose any issue that interests your group (some suggestions are below).  You are encouraged to be creative in your presentation and are welcome to use unconventional presentation techniques such as debates, role plays, audience interaction, skits etc.  The length of your group presentation will be determined in class but will not normally exceed 30 minutes.  Your grade will be comprised of a overall group mark weighted by peer assessment of your contribution.  More details will be made available during class.

Suggested topics: logging; genetically modified organisms; large dams; whaling; geoengineering; factory farming; hunting; indigenous rights, veganism; nuclear energy; mining; artificial meat; coal seam gas; pest management; fire management; Anthropocene; population growth; rewilding; etc


This Assessment Task relates to the following Learning Outcomes:
  • Advanced understanding of the core ethical principles underpinning different eco-philosophical approaches.
  • Advanced understanding of the politics surrounding the formation of environmental attitudes.
  • Ability to work as a team and present ethical solutions to contemporary environmental challenges.

Group reading task

Due: all semester
Weighting: 10%

Each week time will be set aside for small groups discussions of the readings that will be facilitated by student discussants.  These reading sessions will be assessed in two ways:

  • 5 marks will be assigned to the discussants for their organisation and delivery of their session
  • 5 marks will be assigned to each student in the class for their overall participation in class discussions over the semester (participation also includes the iLearn online discussion boards) 

This Assessment Task relates to the following Learning Outcomes:
  • Advanced understanding of the core ethical principles underpinning different eco-philosophical approaches.
  • Advanced understanding of the politics surrounding the formation of environmental attitudes.

Delivery and Resources

The unit will be taught through 13x3 hour sessions on Tuesday nights from 6-9pm in 25 Wallys Walk (W6B) Room 336.  Most sessions will involve a lecture accompanied by tutorial-style activities.  Outside of class students are expected to complete assigned readings and undertake research on topics to complete the assessment requirements.  The sessions require active and informed student input.

GEOP800 will make use of web-based teaching support through iLearn.  Students will require access to the internet and regular contact with the unit’s iLearn site.  To complete assignments students will need access to basic word processing programmes and submit assignments via turnitin.  Some students may wish to make use of powerpoint or prezi for class presentations. 

 

Unit Schedule

 

Week

Date

Topic

Lecturer

Assignment

  Section A 

Eco-philosophies and environmental attitudes

   

1

28 Feb

Introduction: Social natures

AM

 

2

7 March

Indigenous nature

FB

 

3

14 March

Western nature

AM

Group reading tasks begin 

4

21 March

Anthropocentric environmentalism

AM

Short report due

5 28 March

Biocentrism and animal rights 

AM  

6

4 April

Ecocentrism and deep ecology 

AM

 

7 11 April

Ecofeminism

AM Critical reflection due
   

Mid-semester break

   
8 2 May

More-than-human

AA  
  Section B

Environmental attitudes in society

   

9

9 May

Environmental movements: North and South

AM

Group presentations begin

10

16 May

Contesting environmental attitudes

AM

 

11

23 May

Market environmentalism

AM

12

30 May 

Environmental justice

AM

 

13

6 June

Future nature   

AM

Eco-philosophy essay due

Policies and Procedures

Macquarie University policies and procedures are accessible from Policy Central. Students should be aware of the following policies in particular with regard to Learning and Teaching:

Academic Honesty Policy http://mq.edu.au/policy/docs/academic_honesty/policy.html

Assessment Policy http://mq.edu.au/policy/docs/assessment/policy_2016.html

Grade Appeal Policy http://mq.edu.au/policy/docs/gradeappeal/policy.html

Complaint Management Procedure for Students and Members of the Public http://www.mq.edu.au/policy/docs/complaint_management/procedure.html​

Disruption to Studies Policy (in effect until Dec 4th, 2017): http://www.mq.edu.au/policy/docs/disruption_studies/policy.html

Special Consideration Policy (in effect from Dec 4th, 2017): https://staff.mq.edu.au/work/strategy-planning-and-governance/university-policies-and-procedures/policies/special-consideration

In addition, a number of other policies can be found in the Learning and Teaching Category of Policy Central.

Student Code of Conduct

Macquarie University students have a responsibility to be familiar with the Student Code of Conduct: https://students.mq.edu.au/support/student_conduct/

Results

Results shown in iLearn, or released directly by your Unit Convenor, are not confirmed as they are subject to final approval by the University. Once approved, final results will be sent to your student email address and will be made available in eStudent. For more information visit ask.mq.edu.au.

Student Support

Macquarie University provides a range of support services for students. For details, visit http://students.mq.edu.au/support/

Learning Skills

Learning Skills (mq.edu.au/learningskills) provides academic writing resources and study strategies to improve your marks and take control of your study.

Student Enquiry Service

For all student enquiries, visit Student Connect at ask.mq.edu.au

Equity Support

Students with a disability are encouraged to contact the Disability Service who can provide appropriate help with any issues that arise during their studies.

IT Help

For help with University computer systems and technology, visit http://www.mq.edu.au/about_us/offices_and_units/information_technology/help/

When using the University's IT, you must adhere to the Acceptable Use of IT Resources Policy. The policy applies to all who connect to the MQ network including students.

Graduate Capabilities

PG - Discipline Knowledge and Skills

Our postgraduates will be able to demonstrate a significantly enhanced depth and breadth of knowledge, scholarly understanding, and specific subject content knowledge in their chosen fields.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • Advanced understanding of the core ethical principles underpinning different eco-philosophical approaches.
  • Advanced understanding of the politics surrounding the formation of environmental attitudes.
  • Advanced understanding of how eco-philosophies can be used in research.

Assessment tasks

  • Eco-philosophy research essay
  • Group presentation
  • Group reading task

PG - Critical, Analytical and Integrative Thinking

Our postgraduates will be capable of utilising and reflecting on prior knowledge and experience, of applying higher level critical thinking skills, and of integrating and synthesising learning and knowledge from a range of sources and environments. A characteristic of this form of thinking is the generation of new, professionally oriented knowledge through personal or group-based critique of practice and theory.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • Advanced understanding of the core ethical principles underpinning different eco-philosophical approaches.
  • Advanced understanding of the politics surrounding the formation of environmental attitudes.
  • Advanced understanding of how eco-philosophies can be used in research.

Assessment tasks

  • Eco-philosophy research essay
  • Group presentation
  • Group reading task

PG - Research and Problem Solving Capability

Our postgraduates will be capable of systematic enquiry; able to use research skills to create new knowledge that can be applied to real world issues, or contribute to a field of study or practice to enhance society. They will be capable of creative questioning, problem finding and problem solving.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • Advanced understanding of the politics surrounding the formation of environmental attitudes.
  • Advanced understanding of how eco-philosophies can be used in research.

Assessment tasks

  • Short report
  • Eco-philosophy research essay
  • Group presentation

PG - Effective Communication

Our postgraduates will be able to communicate effectively and convey their views to different social, cultural, and professional audiences. They will be able to use a variety of technologically supported media to communicate with empathy using a range of written, spoken or visual formats.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcome

  • Ability to work as a team and present ethical solutions to contemporary environmental challenges.

Assessment task

  • Group presentation

PG - Engaged and Responsible, Active and Ethical Citizens

Our postgraduates will be ethically aware and capable of confident transformative action in relation to their professional responsibilities and the wider community. They will have a sense of connectedness with others and country and have a sense of mutual obligation. They will be able to appreciate the impact of their professional roles for social justice and inclusion related to national and global issues

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • Advanced understanding of the core ethical principles underpinning different eco-philosophical approaches.
  • Ability to reflect upon and develop informed personal environmental attitudes and identify their relevance to practice.

Assessment tasks

  • Critical Reflection
  • Eco-philosophy research essay
  • Group presentation
  • Group reading task

PG - Capable of Professional and Personal Judgment and Initiative

Our postgraduates will demonstrate a high standard of discernment and common sense in their professional and personal judgment. They will have the ability to make informed choices and decisions that reflect both the nature of their professional work and their personal perspectives.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcome

  • Ability to reflect upon and develop informed personal environmental attitudes and identify their relevance to practice.

Assessment task

  • Critical Reflection