This week in ENVS 350 we examined the major environmental theory of political ecology. Political ecology is the study of relationships between people and policy, and the surrounding environment. In his article Political ecology: where is the politics?, Walker critiques the ways researchers utilize of the theory- much political ecology work focuses on issues such as hunger and environmental injustice. Little political action emerges. The author questions the use of a theory in academic framework but not in practice. This was meaningful to me as I too struggle with the use of academia for knowledge without action. I also learned a new method to evaluate theories by their relation to inclusivity and coherence- a good theory does both. I am looking forward to utilizing this concept in analysis of my framework theories.
We also attended a section of Introduction to Environmental Studies to talk with first year students about the major. It surprised me to think about just how far the ENVS seniors have come- when I asked the students what they were “into” and where their passions lay, only a few had them. It reminded me how, at one point, I had not found my own interests yet. This makes me very thankful for the time I get to spend on questions of the green economy, ethical consumerism, and corporate social responsibility.
Though I did not work much on my framework outcomes in ENVS 350 this week, I have been doing a lot of work with my independent study. I explored a few other locations to situate my research. While these locals helped me identify new perspectives to consider in my research, none swayed me from PDX. This week I will meet with my advisor to discuss my topic and framing question. I hope to clarify my direction and get advice on what literature to base my background on.