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    An advanced critical examination of the concept of environment (nature) from a cross-cultural perspective, with focus on sustainability, environmental justice, and conservation.

    Environmental challenges, from natural disasters to intensive farming, from genetic engineering to pollution, know no national boundaries. They call for global action. However, different cultures diverge, and even radically disagree, when it comes to respond to the environmental predicament of our age. The processes by which societies interpret, relate to and act in the environment are cultural transactions subject to political, social and economic contingencies. These require that careful attention be given to diverse kinds and forms of knowledge and cultural communities.

    Drawing on the analytical tools developed in the humanities, the paper provides the students with the interdisciplinary skills required to tackle the complexity of environmental crises. Students will critically interrogate diverse perspectives on contemporary environmental concerns by:

    1. Meeting with various stakeholders in the community
    2. Developing research projects of relevance to both the students and the community
    3. Team-work
    4. Undertaking different kinds of reading and writing exercises (including but not limited to the sharing of blogs, journals, and self-reflection)

    The paper complements majors and minors in Languages and Cultures, Philosophy, the Arts, Environmental Science, Law, Religion, Film and Media, History, Māori and Pacifica Studies, Gender and Social work, Geography, Food Science, Science Communication, Politics, Tourism, Commerce and other areas.

    About this paper

    Paper title Cultures of the Environment (Advanced)
    Subject Global Studies
    EFTS 0.15
    Points 18 points
    Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $981.75
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    72 points
    GLBL 201
    Schedule C
    Arts and Music
    Suitable for students of all disciplines who seek to develop the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately in intercultural situations, be it at home or in international settings.
    Teaching staff

    Associate Professor Cecilia Novero

    Paper Structure

    The paper covers the following key themes, although the time framework may vary:

    1. In the first weeks we introduce key terms through theoretical background readings on the concepts of nature, culture and the environment
    2. Most of the semester will then be spent on the investigation of international case studies - taken from the arts, literature, media and film - that engage the environment. Our case studies will be critically examined through a range of meetings, in class or in a public venue, with other lecturers, experts, artists, volunteers, and Dunedin City Council employees. Students will be required to both engage in person with the people we will meet and to contribute their informed opinion through recourse to blogs and a journal
    3. Towards the semester’s end, students will have time to prepare their collaborative research projects, under the guidance of the paper lecturer. For those who are interested, there will be opportunities to collaborate with a few centres on / off campus and prepare their projects during the course of the semester.
    4. In the last week, students will both share their projects and put together their portfolio, including a self-reflection
    Teaching Arrangements

    The paper meets for three hours a week, once for two consecutive hours. No lectures or tutorials. The paper follows the seminar format, i.e., students are asked to participate at all times. On Fridays we go on visits or host speakers. It will not be possible to record these classes.


    In 2023 we shall read Amitav Ghosh’s novel “The Hungry Tide” (2004). Copies available at the Library and for purchase from The University Bookshop.

    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Environmental literacy, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes

    Students who successfully complete this paper will:

    • Demonstrate an understanding of fundamental concepts and principles of communication between people from different social and cultural backgrounds
    • Generate insights into social, cultural and historical dimensions of cultural and subcultural groups around the world
    • Reflect critically upon the influence of your own culture on how you view yourself and others
    • Compare communication behaviour, verbal and non-verbal, of different cultural groups and interpret the behaviour through culture
    • Apply knowledge and skills to demonstrate autonomy, expert judgement, adaptability, and responsibility as an effective and ethical communicator across multiple cultural contexts
    • Demonstrate an ability to acquire, organise, analyse and evaluate and present information


    Semester 2

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    A1 Wednesday 13:00-13:50 29-35, 37-42
    Friday 11:00-12:50 29-35, 37-42
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