Environment and society
This module starts with the question: how do social science perspectives change the way we understand and respond to the major environmental challenges of our time? You'll explore how understandings of environment and society had profound and unequal consequences for people and ecosystems across the planet, in the age of the Anthropocene. You'll also explore ways of understanding environmental and societal issues that are entangled in cultural, economic, social, and political terms and look at how these can provide the resources required to value environments differently and to build new models of responsibility required to navigate the Anthropocene.
What you will study
The module will help you understand how social science perspectives can change the way we see and intervene in the major environmental challenges of our time. It provides a ‘tool kit’ of social science themes and concepts, skills and approaches that will help you take the social aspects of environmental issues seriously in future studies and in life more generally. Your studies will explore relationships between environment and society through the concept of entanglement, which emphasises the inherently interrelated nature of environmental and social issues. Alongside this, you'll learn about the concept of geographical imagination, enabling you to trace, map out, analyse and interpret the environment-society entanglements central to understanding contemporary environmental and social challenges.
The main module concepts of entanglement and geographical imagination are explored through each of the six blocks. After the introductory block, the cultural, economic, social, and political dimensions of environment-society issues are explored in turn. The module concludes by providing an opportunity to consolidate and review your learning, bringing together themes, concepts and case studies from across the module.
Each of the six blocks also develops a key academic skill (description, interpretation, investigation, analysis, evaluation, and consolidation) through the central focus on engaging critically with multiple forms of evidence. A key part of this are the Virtual Fieldwork activities in each block. Each of these activities focuses on a specific case study related to the themes of the block and the key academic skill for that block. You'll be provided with a range of different types of evidence from maps, newspaper articles and reports to video interviews with experts and people directly affected by the issues explored. This is designed to develop your skills as an independent researcher.
Your skills and knowledge will be developed through five tutor-marked assessments (one for each of the first five blocks) and, in the final consolidation block, a revision-oriented interactive computer-marked assessment and an end-of-module assessment. At the end of the module you'll have a clear understanding of what social science perspectives contribute to understanding and intervening in environment-society issues, as well as a skills set of real value in both academic and vocational contexts.
Academic writing, searching the internet, reading academic material, making notes, and thinking critically are all important skills developed in this module and prior experience in these areas would be an advantage.
If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.
This module provides a study guide and two text books. You’ll have access to a module website, which includes:
- a week-by-week study planner
- module materials
- audio and video content
- assessment guide
- online tutorials and forums .
A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.
Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.
A desktop or laptop computer with either an up-to-date version of Windows or macOS.
The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.
To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).
Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.