|| GG36420 |
|| THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF ENVIRONMENTAL RISK |
|| 2003/2004 |
|| Dr Deborah P Dixon |
|| Semester 2 |
|| Dr Deborah P Dixon |
| Course delivery
|| Lecture || 22 Hours 11 x 2 hour lectures |
|Assessment Type||Assessment Length/Details||Proportion|
|Semester Exam||2 Hours Written Seen Examination ||50%|
|Semester Assessment|| Coursework Essay 3000 words ||50%|
|Supplementary Exam||2 Hours Written Unseen Examination ||50%|
|Supplementary Assessment|| Coursework Essay 3000 words. Resit for a condoned (medical grounds) non-completion of examination or coursework involves the completion of the missing component(s) for the full-range of marks on dates set in the Supplementary Examination period. Resit due to aggregate failure or non-completion of part of the assessment requires re-examination of each component if marks of <40% in both were obtained, or re-examination or re-submission of the failed component (examination of assignment(s) to obtain a maximum mark of 40% for the module). For the examination this will take the form of a 2 hour unseen examination. For the coursework essay it will involve the resubmission of the essay (with revisions if appropriate).||50%|
On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. Identify, refer to, and critically evaluate a range of interdisciplinary literature on the social construction of risk
2. Demonstrate an awareness of the key research questions and methods utilized by Geographers in regard to risk
3. Develop their own case studies illustrating key theoretical concepts used in class
4. Further develop their critical thought, writing and presentation skills
In this module, we address the origins and current concerns of the 'science wars', paying particular attention to the emergence of social constructionism as a theoretical approach to the study fo knowledge. Next, we turn to the hazards and risk subfield within Geography, noting how this area has relied on a very specific (positivist) research agenda and associated methods of data collection and analysis. With this grounding in place, we can assss how research into 'natural' and 'human' hazards has traditionally been carried out, and how it is currently being impacted by social constructionism. In doing so, we will look at how our understanding of hazard research has been transformed via a constructionist emphasis on discourse, as well as the identification of new forms of hazard such as biotechnologies. Throughout the module we will use a wide range of case studies to assess how hazards have been differentially understood and investigated.
Introduction to the module: the expanding field of inquiry
Origins of the 'science wars:' Kuhn's history of science; sociology of scientific knowledge; Marxist critique of science; the production of nature; political ecology.
Feminist critique of science: constructionist accounts of science: the construction of nature; and the defense of science.
The environment, risk and the media: from health warnings to the disaster movie.
The hazards and risk sub-field: neoclassical school; Chicago resource school; vulnerability and dependence; environmentalism and deep ecology; and social constructivism.
Textual Analysis via the computer, deploying the concepts of ideology and discourse.
The construction of 'natural' hazards: modernist frames of reference; agrariansim and the sublime aesthetic.
The construction of 'human' hazards: neomalthusianism; Faustian bargains; and the emergence of 'postmodern' biotechnologies.
Techno- and bio-warfare and their associated 'risks': simulations, cyborgs and postmodern ethics.
Medical geography discourses and case studies: mesmerism' clustering; germ theory; and the Genome project.
** Essential Reading
Blaikie, Piers et al (1994) At Risk: natural hazards, people's vulnerability and disasters
Routledge: London and New York
Castree, Noel and Braun, Bruce (1998) Nature at the Millennium
Hacking, Ian (1999) The Social Construction of What
Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Mass
Haraway, Donna (1991) Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The reinvention of nature
Routledge: New York
Kuhn, Thomas (1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
University of Chicago Press: Chicago
Latour, Bruno and Woolgar, Steve (1986) Laboratory Life: The social construction of scientific facts
Princeton University Press: Princeton
Levidow, Les (ed) (1986) Radical Science
Free Association Press: London
Peet, R. and Watts, M (1996) Liberation Ecologies: environment, development, social movements
Sokal, Alan D. and Bricmont, Jean (1998) Intellectual Impostures
Profile Books: London
Wolpert, Lewis (1993) The Unnatural Nature of Science
This module is at CQFW Level 6