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SOCI208 Environmental Sociology

An introduction to research in environmental sociology with an emphasis on the social processes, dynamics and institutions that are influential in contemporary environmental crises.

What causes environmental problems? Why are some environmental problems harder to fix than others? Who should be benefitting from the environment, and who should be responsible for its well-being? In Environmental Sociology, we look at the social dimensions of our natural world and consider how our social life shapes our ecological life (and vice versa!). We will focus particularly on how environmental problems are created by social drivers and experienced unequally.

We cover a range of topics, including production and consumption and its environmental effects, inequality and environmental risk, and social movements for environmental justice. We will be constantly drawing from contemporary examples to discuss how sociological tools can help us understand our environmental crises and how we might strategise for a better environmental future.

Paper title Environmental Sociology
Paper code SOCI208
Subject Sociology
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $955.05
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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(SOCI 101 or SOCI 102 or SOCI 103) or 54 points
Schedule C
Arts and Music

Teaching staff

Co-ordinator and Lecturer: Dr Simon Barber

Paper Structure
  • Environmental problems as sociological problems
  • Consumption and materialism
  • Health and embodiment
  • Environmental disasters
  • Environmental movements
  • Environmental justice and inequality
Bell, M. (2012) An Invitation to Environmental Sociology.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Communication, Critical thinking, Environmental literacy, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete the paper will develop:

  • Knowledge of contemporary environmental problems and relevant social theories
  • The ability to analyse and discuss environmental problems effectively in writing, discussions and presentations

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Tuesday 15:00-16:50 9-14, 16, 18-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
T1 Friday 12:00-12:50 10-13, 16-22
T2 Friday 13:00-13:50 10-13, 16-22