RCIDIV 305 - The Literature of Environmental and Social Justice
Winter 2020, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: RC Interdivisional (RCIDIV)
Department: LSA Residential College
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Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


Words should be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking. ~John Maynard Keynes

The proper balancing of environmental protection, biodiversity, and sustainable development is a complex equation in an industrialized society. Yet as central as these ideas are to our understanding of a healthy environment, there remains debate around issues of environmental justice: Access to safe and clean drinking water, fresh and nutritious food choice, and food sovreignty, as well as the disposal of hazardous industrial waste, mountain top mining removal, and Superfund sites in neighborhoods of color and lower socio-economic status. Flint, Michigan has become the latest case, in a myriad of examples, of a populace subjected to inhumane treatment by being denied the basic human right to safe drinking water. In the 1970's, when the modern environmental movement was born, our country enacted sweeping anti-pollution laws. In the decades since, however, our commitment to environmental protection and environmental justice has waned, and we continue to revisit the greatest ecological harm on those who can least afford it.

This seminar considers efforts to promote environmental protection alongside economic prosperity and social justice, and explores cases where that balance has gone awry, with often tragic consequences for the affected communities. We will look at individual cases and community stories in an effort to connect with the people and places adversely affected by our dependence on cheap sources of energy and the quick disposal of toxic materials. We will detail the multiple successes of community efforts to fight against their own government in order to win environmental and social justice.

This class is open to all LSA students.

Course Requirements:

Students will complete writing responses to course readings and a final project of their choice. Full participation in class readings and discussion is required.

Intended Audience:

RCIDIV 305 is open to all U-M students. An interest in environmental and social justice issues is encouraged, though not required.

Class Format:

This class is a discussion-based, and relies on student participation. We’ll host speakers, view environmental documentary films, read non-fiction, fiction, and poetry, in addition to case studies.


RCIDIV 305 - The Literature of Environmental and Social Justice
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
TuTh 4:00PM - 5:30PM

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