Introduction to Environmental Humanities
WU Ka Ming
This course introduces to students the emerging field of environmental humanities with a particular focus on China. Human activities have been drastically transforming the ecosystem. How do we in the humanities understand the changing nature, live with pollution, and make sense of ecological deterioration? How do technology, capital and state intertwine and contribute to climate changes and environmental crises? How do people in the humanities engage with issues of sustainability and environmental justice in everyday life? This course introduces major concerns in the field of environmental humanities through the lens of China, the “World’s Factory” and the most populated country with the second largest economy, whose environmental challenges have great implications for the rest of the world.
This course will first survey topics of scientific and technological intervention of our natural world in the Anthropocene era. It then looks at case studies of specific topics such as agricultural sustainability, waste management, water crisis, species extinction, and environmental justice. Each topic will contain one week discussion of the topic’s global manifestations and related debates in China, and one week’s introduction on humanities response to the issues. Students will be guided to develop critical understanding of our natural world and to develop innovative ideas and humanistic responses.
Detailed Course Outline is available on Blackboard.
Week 1: Introduction: What is Environmental Humanities?
Week 2: What is the Anthropocene and what can we in the humanities do about it?
Week 3-4: How do we sustain agricultural production? Debates on Genetically Modified Organism (GMO)
Week 5-6: How do we manage the ever-growing amount of waste? Debates on plastic waste
Week 7-8: How do we ensure water and other energy supplies for human activities without jeopardizing non-human beings and the environment? Debates on Three Gorges Dam
Week 9-10: How serious is mass extinction? What are its consequences? Debates on wildlife consumption and preservation
Week 11-12: What is Environmental Justice? How to talk about it in the Humanities? Humanistic understanding of living with pollution in rural China
Week 13: Group Project Presentation
Assessment & Assignments
Homework or assignment (30%)
Honesty in Academic Work
Attention is drawn to University policy and regulations on honesty in academic work, and to the disciplinary guidelines and procedures applicable to breaches of such policy and regulations. Details may be found at http://www.cuhk.edu.hk/policy/academichonesty/.
With each assignment, students will be required to submit a signed declaration that they are aware of these policies, regulations, guidelines and procedures.
- In the case of group projects, all members of the group should be asked to sign the declaration, each of whom is responsible and liable to disciplinary actions, irrespective of whether he/she has signed the declaration and whether he/she has contributed, directly or indirectly, to the problematic contents.
- For assignments in the form of a computer-generated document that is principally text-based and submitted via VeriGuide, the statement, in the form of a receipt, will be issued by the system upon students’ uploading of the soft copy of the assignment.
Assignments without the properly signed declaration will not be graded by teachers.
Only the final version of the assignment should be submitted via VeriGuide.
The submission of a piece of work, or a part of a piece of work, for more than one purpose (e.g. to satisfy the requirements in two different courses) without declaration to this effect shall be regarded as having committed undeclared multiple submissions. It is common and acceptable to reuse a turn of phrase or a sentence or two from one’s own work; but wholesale reuse is problematic. In any case, agreement from the course teacher(s) concerned should be obtained prior to the submission of the piece of work.