Environmental Sociology: How Ideology, Politics and Social Conflict Change the Earth

Are there natural limits to economic growth and human prosperity?

Today a consensus exists among scholars, administrators and experts dealing with environment: contemporary global challenges of climate change and alarming resource depletion require a profound reevaluation and restructuring of the relationship between humans, society and nature. In other words, pressing issues of environmental degradation cannot be solved by a simple recourse to technology or more efficient “management of biodiversity.”

Therefore, this course draws on influential research in the sociology of knowledge and social studies of sustainability. It inquires into two fundamental problems. First, we will look at how our ways of knowing and self-understanding are implicated in environmental degradation. How do we acquire knowledge? How do we draw the line between right and wrong? How we can distinguish between knowledge, myth and error? We will assess which ways of making sense of this world can break fragile environmental equilibria or, to the contrary, help keeping them intact. Second, we will critically revisit a number of fundamental concepts, such as “development” and “resources.” Discussing the interactions between society and environment in various domains, including air, land, food, transport and energy, we will explore how political and social contestations often spill over to environmental issues. Case studies will animate these discussions.

Matvey Lomonosov:

Matvey received his PhD in Sociology from McGill University in Montreal in 2018. Before that he earned a BA degree in History at Perm State University (Russia), an MA in International Relations at the University of Tirana (Albania) and an MA in Nationalism Studies at Central European University (Budapest). This multi-sited educational history has allowed him to professionally learn a number of Eastern European languages and to get broad experience in archival, ethnographic and interview research in the region. Some of his scholarly articles have been published in different languages in Russia, Ukraine, Poland, the UK and Balkan countries. Before joining SAS he worked as an adjunct lecturer at the University of Tirana and McGill.