Countertextual Ecologies: Political Ecology

Fall 2017 and Winter 2018 quarters

Taught by

climate justice, climate policy and politics, political ecology, environment and development

The relationship between nature and history is complex, so much so that the space between nature and the human, being and language, may not even be measurable. Yet the environmental imperatives of our moment—including the need to cultivate a tolerance if not an appreciation for complexity itself—are the decisive ones. In this program, we will think through questions of environmental consciousness and its discontents from the points of view of political ecology, gastropoetics, eco-poetics, and eco-music. How does immersion in complex music prepare us to recognize the complexities of an ecosystem? Does the deliciousness of a fine organic, single origin chocolate correspond to the tropical ecosystem of the country of origin, the evolutionary development of mammalian taste receptors, or the cultivated aesthetic of the chocolatier? Is the poem mimetic of nature, or a function of it? How could such a seemingly noble enterprise as 'environmentalism' or 'protecting nature' be problematic? How have powerful environmental imaginaries and narratives served to dangerously simplify how environmental problems and their solutions are conceptualized? Ours will be a multifaculty, multidisciplinary approach to interdisciplinary community-based learning. While activities will include shared lectures and readings, half of program work will take place in faculty-specific tracks.

The political ecology track with Shangrila Joshi Wynn will focus on critical analyses of dominant environmental narratives through a lens of social difference. Our goal will be to understand how prevailing environmental discourses are shaped by colonialism and other contemporary configurations of power and privilege. The Fall curriculum will be focused on unpacking the environmental imaginary of protecting 'nature' from humans to arrive at more nuanced ways to understand the complexities of the nature-society relationship. In the Winter, we will extend this work to explore the complexities and nuances of the multi-faceted discourse of climate justice.

Program Details

Fields of Study

aesthetics ecology environmental studies geography international studies literature music philosophy political economy sustainability studies writing

Preparatory For

aesthetics, ecology, environmental studies, geography, literature, music, philosophy, political economy, sustainability studies, and writing



Fall Open Winter Open

Location and Schedule

Final Schedule and Room Assignment

Campus Location


Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

First class meeting: Tuesday, September 26 at 9:30am (Com 110)

Online Learning

No Required Online Learning


$200 for a 3-day overnight field trip to the Olympic Peninsula (including entrance feels to national park and museums).