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The Failure of Environmentalism (May 2017)

May 2017 Courses

The Failure of Environmentalism (May 2017)

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The Failure of Environmentalism (May 2017)

from 100.00

The environmental movement is failing to cope with our modern system of global capitalism and consumption. This course will explore some of the root causes of this, examining the origins of our environmental ethos, the ways in which it has been packaged and marketed by mainstream environmental organizations, and the movement's inability to acknowledge and address the culture war over core values and a vision for the future. 

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Thursdays, May 4 - 25, 2017 || 6:00-8:00pm
Taborspace || 5441 SE Belmont

$100 individual rate/$150 professional development rate || 15 Student minimum; 30 maximum

Taught by Jonathan Ostar

What does it mean to be an environmentalist? Has this label, and the current mainstream environmental movement, been successful? Scholars and activists alike question whether our 50-year experiment in mainstream environmentalism can succeed in transforming our policies, structures, practices and behaviors, prompting many to proclaim the "death of environmentalism."

There is no denying the lack of transformative results - the environmental movement is failing to cope with our modern system of global capitalism and consumption across every sector. Despite significant gains in public health and awareness, racial and socioeconomic environmental health disparities are increasing, and the percentage of Americans who identify as an environmentalist has decline precipitiously. This course will explore some of the root causes of this, examining the origins of our environmental ethos, the ways in which it has been packaged and marketed by mainstream environmental organizations, and the movement's inability to acknowledge and address the culture war over core values and a vision for the future. Discussion of select readings and media will focus on unpacking these core values and identifying current opportunities to build a new green movement for everyone.

Week One (5/4): Where is our environmental imagination? Reading: Excerpts from Plant a Tree, Ride a Bike, Save the World (Maniates, 2006)

Week Two (5/11): Where does our notion of environmentalism come from? Reading: Against Sustainability, The Stone, NYT (Butman, 8/8/16); Primer on Ecological Marxism

Week Three (5/18): Where did our environmental movement go wrong? Reading: Excerpts from The Death of Environmentalism (Nordhaus and Shellenberger, 2005)

Week Four (5/25): Environmental Justice and Transformative Politics. Reading: Excerpts from A Case for a New Green Politics (Speth, 2008)

“It's not about what it is, it's about what it can become.” 

― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

Jonathan is a civil rights and environmental justice advocate in Portland. He currently works as the Civil Rights Administrator for Multnomah County. He is also a co-founder and previous executive director of OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, a community-based nonprofit advocating for environmental justice in the Portland metro region and across the state. Jonathan teaches EJ and civil rights at Lewis and Clark Law School, and is a recovering civil rights attorney.