SOS 494/594: Equity, Justice and Sustainability

Equity, Justice and Sustainability
Assistant Professor Aaron Golub, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning and School of Sustainability, Arizona State University.

Course Description

Cities pose a particularly strong challenge for a society interested in sustainability. They are places of mixture, exchange, and innovation while also being places of concentrated energy and materials use, pollution, public health issues, social inequalities, violence and crime. To address these problems in a sustainable manner we need to understand the underlying forces propelling urban dynamics and using a sustainability framework, develop a program for action. Interestingly, the approach we take to understand urban dynamics will drive our understanding of particular urban issues and therefore shape our goals and recommendations for addressing those issues. In this course, we will focus on urban justice issues and employ sociological methods in studying them. These methods will illuminate justice issues in particular ways. We will find synergies with sustainable approaches in order to develop a course of action to address urban justice issues. Through the workshop, we hope students develop a deeper understanding of broad social development, inclusion and justice within the general framework of sustainable urban development.

The Phoenix metropolitan area will be our laboratory for investigating current problems and potential solutions relating to justice and sustainability. Being a workshop, we will be working closely with a variety of stakeholders. Our particular problem focus areas, research and products will be decided by the class. The course will involve a mixture of classroom study on general urban sociology and specific issues pertaining to the Phoenix metro area, along with field research, writing and documentation. The class will break up into teams to focus on different aspects of the problems identified in the class.

Students will become familiar with the following concepts: core urban sociology concepts; stakeholders and power constellations; oppression; isolation; containment; participation; class struggle; environmental justice and environmental racism. Students will understand the agreement and disagreement between these issues and those contained in sustainable urban development paradigms. Students will understand and be able to apply our critical thinking framework to these problems and concepts. Students will contribute to a single final course product communicating our research to a wide audience with the aim of critical reflection and solution proposals.

SOS 494-594 Syllabus

The Intersection Between Justice and Sustainability: Voices and Views from South Phoenix.

This film, produced by SOS 494/594 students, documents communities creating visions and strategies for justice and sustainability in South Phoenix. It tackles issues of health, environmental justice, urban history and segregation, food security and neighborhood organizing through the eyes of local community leaders.

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