Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 2013

Environment, Knowledge and Society in an Age of Global Uncertainty

Lecturer: Professor Steven Yearley,
Director of the ESRC Genomics Policy & Research Forum,
School of Social and Political Science,
University of Edinburgh,
United Kingdom

Main disciplines: Sociology,
Environmental Studies, STS

Dates: 22 - 26 July 2013
Course Credits: 10 pts (ECTS)
Limitation: 30 participants
 

Objectives
This course offers a sophisticated introduction to issues in environmental sociology. It focuses in particular on climate change and aspects of biodiversity protection, though it also follows the implications of these issues into neighbouring areas such as biofuels, plant biotechnology and synthetic biology.

A recognition of the close coupling between environmental issues and scientific expertise is central to the course, and insights from “science and technology studies” will be used throughout. Scientific knowledge is indispensable to understanding environmental issues in the contemporary world; it is therefore inevitable that the environmental sociologist pay attention to the ways in which scientific interpretations of the natural world are developed, elaborated and publicised.

The course will also focus on analysing environmental issues in their global context. This is critical not only because some environmental problems are said to be ‘global’ but also because environmental issues frequently end up becoming part of international trade disputes. The World Trade Organization (WTO) is a major influence on environmental regulations worldwide, even if it is not primarily an environmental-policy agency. The conceptual and organisational interplay between economic institutions and environmental practices thus forms the final analytical focus for this course.


Books to purchase

The only book you will use repeatedly enough to make it worth buying is:

  • Steven Yearley, 2009. Cultures of Environmentalism (Basingstoke: Palgrave).

If you like books, you could also helpfully buy:

  • Naomi Oreskes and Erik M Conway, 2010. Merchants of Doubt (London: Bloomsbury).

and the following (which is very inexpensive):

  • Tony Juniper, 2013. What Has Nature Ever Done For Us?: How Money Really Does Grow On Trees (London: Profile Books).
     

COURSE OUTLINE

Lecture 1: Environment, knowledge and society: an introduction

Reading:

  • Steven Yearley 2009 ‘Ecological problems’ in George Ritzer (ed) Handbook of Social Problems: A Comparative International Perspective (London: Sage) 87-100.


Lecture 2: Knowledge, risk and uncertainty

Readings:

  • Ulrich Beck 1992 Risk Society (London: Sage) Part I, esp. pages 51-84.
  • Anthony Elliott 2002 ‘Beck’s sociology of risk: a critical assessment’, Sociology 36 (2) 293-315


Lecture 3: What makes ‘global environmental problems’ global?

Readings:

  • Steven Yearley 2009 Cultures of Environmentalism (Basingstoke: Palgrave) chapter 4.
  • Steven Yearley 1996 Sociology, Environmentalism, Globalization: Re-Inventing the Globe (London: Sage) chapters 3 and 4.
  • Wolfgang Sachs 1994 ‘The blue planet: an ambiguous modern icon’, The Ecologist, 24 (5) 170-75.


Lecture 4: The World Trade Organization as environmental regulator

Readings:

  • David Vogel 2003 ‘International trade and environmental regulation’ chapter 16 in Norman J Vig and Michael E Kraft (eds) Environmental Policy: New Directions for the Twenty-First Century, Fifth Edition.
  • David Winickoff, Sheila Jasanoff, Lawrence Busch, Robin Grove-White, & Brian Wynne 2005 ‘Adjudicating the GM Food Wars: Science, Risk and Democracy in World Trade Law’, Yale Journal of International Law 30: 81–123.


Lecture 5: Ambivalence and uncertainty about the ‘use’ of science

Readings:

  • Steven Yearley 1992/2009 ‘Green ambivalence about science: legal-rational authority and the scientific legitimation of a social movement’ British Journal of Sociology 43 (4) 511-32; this is also available, updated, as Steven Yearley 2009 Cultures of Environmentalism (Basingstoke: Palgrave) chapter 8.
  • For a rapid “case study” see Mark Lynas’s public change-of-heart ‘Why I became pro-GM’ on the site of the UK Farmers Weekly Interactive - http://www.fwi.co.uk/articles/11/01/2013/137081/mark-lynas-why-i-became-pro-gm.htm


Lecture 6: Nature and the environment in science and technology studies

Reading:

  • Steven Yearley 2008 ‘Nature and the environment in science and technology studies’ The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, ed E Hackett, O Amsterdamska, M Lynch and J Wajcman (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press) 921-47.


Lecture 7: Scientific knowledge and understanding climate change

Readings:

  • Jessica O’Reilly et al 2012 ‘The rapid disintegration of projections: The West Antarctic Ice Sheet and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’ Social Studies of Science 42 (5) 709-31: DOI 10.1177/0306312712448130.
  • David Demeritt 2001 ‘The construction of global warming and the politics of science’ Annals of the Association of American Geographers 91 (2) 307-337: DOI 10.1111/0004-5608.00245.


Lecture 8: The meaning of the 2009 ‘Climategate’ incident

Readings:

  • Steven Yearley 2009 ‘Sociology and climate change after Kyoto: what roles for social science in understanding climate change?’ Current Sociology 57 (3) 389-405: DOI: 10.1177/0011392108101589.
  • Naomi Oreskes and Erik M Conway, 2010. Merchants of Doubt (London: Bloomsbury) chapter 6.


Lecture 9: ‘Economization’ of the environment

Readings:

  • Koray Çalișkan and Michel Callon 2009 ‘Economization, part 1: shifting attention from the economy towards processes of economization’ Economy and Society 38 (3) 369-398: DOI: 10.1080/03085140903020580.
  • Michael Jacobs 1994 ‘The limits to neoclassicism: towards an institutional environmental economics’, in Michael Redclift and Ted Benton (eds), Social Theory and the Global Environment (London: Routledge) 67-91.


Lecture 10: Making and operating a market for carbon

Readings:

  • Donald MacKenzie 2008 ‘Making things the same: gases, emission rights and the politics of carbon markets’ Insights 1 (6) Durham University, Institute of Advanced Study – downloadable from: www.dur.ac.uk/resources/ias/Mackenzie15Aug.pdf .
  • Donald MacKenzie 2007 ‘The political economy of carbon trading’ London Review of Books 29 (7) April 5th – downloadable from: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n07/donald-mackenzie/the-political-economy-of-carbon-trading


Lecture 11: Making and interpreting biodiversity

Reading:

  • David Takacs, 1996. The Idea of Biodiversity (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press) chapter 3.


Lecture 12: ‘Ecosystems services’ and the economization of biodiversity

Readings:

  • Tony Juniper, 2013. What Has Nature Ever Done For Us?: How Money Really Does Grow On Trees (London: Profile Books) chapter 4.
  • UK National Ecosystem Assessment 2011 Synthesis of the Key Findings, see pages: 22-59 downloadable from: http://uknea.unep-wcmc.org/Resources/tabid/82/Default.aspx


Lecture 13: ‘Food security’ as an environmental issue

Reading:

  • Lester R Brown, 2012. Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity (New York: W W Norton & Co) chapters 1, 3 & 4.


Lecture 14: Plant biotechnology as a focus for environmental controversy

Readings:

  • Sheila Jasanoff, 2005. Designs on Nature: Science and Democracy in Europe and the United States (Princeton: Princeton University Press) chapter 5.
  • Steven Yearley, 2009. Cultures of Environmentalism (Basingstoke: Palgrave) chapter 10.


Lecture 15: Seeking to resolve international conflicts over GMOs

Readings:

  • David Winickoff, Sheila Jasanoff, Lawrence Busch, Robin Grove-White, & Brian Wynne 2005 ‘Adjudicating the GM Food Wars: Science, Risk and Democracy in World Trade Law’ Yale Journal of International Law 30: 81–123.
  • Joseph Murphy et al 2006 ‘Regulatory standards for environmental risks: understanding the U.S.-European Union conflict over genetically modified crops’ Social Studies of Science 36 (1) 133–60.


Lecture 16: Delegation and public participation as means to address environmental uncertainty and controversy

Readings:

  • Janus Hansen (2010): Biotechnology and Public Engagement in Europe (Basingstoke: Palgrave) chapters 5 and 6.
  • Brian Wynne 2001 ‘Creating public alienation: expert cultures of risk and ethics on GMOs’ Science as Culture 10 (4) 445-481.


Lecture 17: Environment, knowledge and society and the rising powers

Reading:

  • Arthur P J Mol, 2011. ‘China's ascent and Africa’s environment’ Global Environmental Change 21 (3) 785–94.


Lecture 18: Climate strategies in an uncertain world

Reading:

  • J. Timmons Roberts, 2011. ‘Multipolarity and the new world (dis)order: US hegemonic decline and the fragmentation of the global climate regime’ Global Environmental Change 21 (3) 776-84.


Lecture 19: Addressing environmental issues in a context of uncertainty

Reading:

  • Sheila Jasanoff, 2005. Designs on Nature: Science and Democracy in Europe and the United States (Princeton: Princeton University Press) chapter 10.


Lecture 20: Overview and conclusions

Reading:

  • Brian Wynne 2002 ‘Risk and environment as legitimatory discourses of technology: reflexivity inside out?’ Current Sociology 50 (3) 459-77.



Complete reading list

  • Ulrich Beck 1992 Risk Society (London: Sage).
  • Lester R Brown 2012 Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity (New York: W W Norton & Co).
  • Koray Çalișkan and Michel Callon 2009 ‘Economization, part 1: shifting attention from the economy towards processes of economization’ Economy and Society 38 (3) 369-398: DOI: 10.1080/03085140903020580.
  • David Demeritt 2001 ‘The construction of global warming and the politics of science’ Annals of the Association of American Geographers 91 (2) 307-337: DOI 10.1111/0004-5608.00245.
  • Anthony Elliott 2002 ‘Beck’s sociology of risk: a critical assessment’, Sociology 36 (2) 293-315.
  • Janus Hansen (2010): Biotechnology and Public Engagement in Europe (Basingstoke: Palgrave).
  • Michael Jacobs 1994 ‘The limits to neoclassicism: towards an institutional environmental economics’, in Michael Redclift and Ted Benton (eds), Social Theory and the Global Environment (London: Routledge) 67-91.
  • Sheila Jasanoff 2005 Designs on Nature: Science and Democracy in Europe and the United States (Princeton: Princeton University Press).
  • Tony Juniper 2013 What Has Nature Ever Done For Us?: How Money Really Does Grow On Trees (London: Profile Books).
  • Mark Lynas 2013 ‘Why I became pro-GM’ on the site of the UK Farmers Weekly Interactive - http://www.fwi.co.uk/articles/11/01/2013/137081/mark-lynas-why-i-became-pro-gm.htm
  • Donald MacKenzie 2008 ‘Making things the same: gases, emission rights and the politics of carbon markets’ Insights 1 (6) Durham University, Institute of Advanced Study – downloadable from www.dur.ac.uk/resources/ias/Mackenzie15Aug.pdf
  • Donald MacKenzie 2007 ‘The political economy of carbon trading’ London Review of Books 29 (7) April 5th – downloadable from http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n07/donald-mackenzie/the-political-economy-of-carbon-trading
  • Arthur P J Mol 2011 ‘China's ascent and Africa’s environment’ Global Environmental Change 21 (3) 785–94.
  • Joseph Murphy et al 2006 ‘Regulatory standards for environmental risks: understanding the U.S.-European Union conflict over genetically modified crops’ Social Studies of Science 36 (1) 133–60.
  • Jessica O’Reilly et al 2012 ‘The rapid disintegration of projections: The West Antarctic Ice Sheet and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’ Social Studies of Science 42 (5) 709-31: DOI 10.1177/0306312712448130.
  • Naomi Oreskes and Erik M Conway 2010 Merchants of Doubt (London: Bloomsbury).
  • J. Timmons Roberts 2011 ‘Multipolarity and the new world (dis)order: US hegemonic decline and the fragmentation of the global climate regime’ Global Environmental Change 21 (3) 776-84.
  • Wolfgang Sachs 1994 ‘The blue planet: an ambiguous modern icon’, The Ecologist, 24 (5) 170-75.
  • David Takacs 1996 The Idea of Biodiversity (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press) .
  • UK National Ecosystem Assessment 2011 Synthesis of the Key Findings see pages: 22-59 downloadable from http://uknea.unep-wcmc.org/Resources/tabid/82/Default.aspx
  • David Vogel 2003 ‘International trade and environmental regulation’ chapter 16 in Norman J Vig and Michael E Kraft (eds) Environmental Policy: New Directions for the Twenty-First Century Fifth Edition.
  • David Winickoff, Sheila Jasanoff, Lawrence Busch, Robin Grove-White, & Brian Wynne 2005 ‘Adjudicating the GM Food Wars: Science, Risk and Democracy in World Trade Law’ Yale Journal of International Law 30: 81–123.
  • Brian Wynne 2001 ‘Creating public alienation: expert cultures of risk and ethics on GMOs’ Science as Culture 10 (4) 445-481.
  • Brian Wynne 2002 ‘Risk and environment as legitimatory discourses of technology: reflexivity inside out?’ Current Sociology 50 (3) 459-77.
  • Steven Yearley 1992/2009 ‘Green ambivalence about science: legal-rational authority and the scientific legitimation of a social movement’ British Journal of Sociology 43 (4) 511-32; this is also available, updated, as Steven Yearley 2009 Cultures of Environmentalism (Basingstoke: Palgrave) chapter 8.
  • Steven Yearley 1996 Sociology, Environmentalism, Globalization: Re-Inventing the Globe (London: Sage).
  • Steven Yearley 2008 ‘Nature and the environment in science and technology studies’ The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, ed E Hackett, O Amsterdamska, M Lynch and J Wajcman (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press) 921-47.
  • Steven Yearley 2009 Cultures of Environmentalism (Basingstoke: Palgrave).
  • Steven Yearley 2009 ‘Sociology and climate change after Kyoto: what roles for social science in understanding climate change?’ Current Sociology 57 (3) 389-405: DOI: 10.1177/0011392108101589.
  • Steven Yearley 2009 ‘Ecological problems’ in George Ritzer (ed) Handbook of Social Problems: A Comparative International Perspective (London: Sage) 87-100.

 

The lecturer
Steve Yearley works at the University of Edinburgh as the Professor of the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge. He joined Edinburgh in 2005 having previously been Head of Sociology at the University of York, England. He came to environmental sociology (at the end of the 1980s) through the sociology of science and work on the “public understanding of science”. His work has been primarily empirical, though informed by theories in STS, and he has carried out extensive research on environmental NGOs, on globalisation, on citizen engagement and – latterly – on climate issues. He has three well-known books on environmental sociology (The Green Case: A Sociology of Environmental Arguments, Issues and Politics [London: Harper Collins 1991, reprinted Routledge 1992]; Sociology, Environmentalism, Globalization: Re-Inventing the Globe [London: Sage 1996]; and Cultures of Environmentalism (Basingstoke: Palgrave. 2005/2009]) and another on science studies (Making Sense of Science [London: Sage 2005]). Full details of his publications and recent activities can be found at his website: http://www.genomicsnetwork.ac.uk/steveyearley/

 

Tags: PhD, Summer School, Sociology, STS, Science, Environment, Risk and safety, Technology
Published Dec. 12, 2012 12:05 PM - Last modified Sep. 22, 2015 1:01 PM