SOCIOLOGY 492/592:




Meeting Place:  207 Kethley Hall

Meeting Times:  Mon-Fri, 9:55-11:40 a.m., May 27-June 27, 2003


Instructor: Dr. Alan Barton

Office: 201A Kethley

Office Hours: Mon-Fri, 9:00-9:50 a.m.

Telephone: (662) 846-4097






Schnaiberg, Allen and Kenneth Alan Gould. 2000. Environment and Society: The Enduring Conflict. The Blackburn Press.  Available at the DSU Bookstore.


Articles as assigned.


Click on the link for study questions on the readings:


Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5
Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10


Course Overview:


This course introduces students to the disciplines of environmental and natural resources sociology.  The course covers environmental and resource-related issues from a theoretical and policy-oriented approach. Important environmental issues that we will discuss include deforestation, biological diversity, air and water pollution, global warming, and sustainable development.


Course Organization and Approach:


This course uses a participatory, learner-centered, adult education approach.  An adult education approach recognizes that students are responsible for their own learning.  The professor can only provide opportunities to learn, but cannot force students to learn.  Students are expected to work hard in this course, meaning that for every hour of class time, students are expected to spend two to three hours outside of class preparing by doing readings, assignments, studying for quizzes and exams, and thinking about the course material.


Students are expected to take responsibility for the success of the course, that is, students should take an active interest not just in the course material, but in the course itself, making it a success for all participants.  Factors such as interest, motivation, creativity, and initiative are important elements in evaluating a student’s performance and assigning a grade.


Course material is presented in several formats.  A theoretical framework for understanding the social dimensions of environmental issues is presented in the assigned chapters in the book Environment and Society: The Enduring Conflict by Allen Schnaiberg and Kenneth Alan Gould, and in several assigned articles.  Information on social, political, and scientific dimensions of specific environmental issues is presented in other assigned articles.  Topical issues are presented in the weekly videos and in the student-led discussions on current issues drawn from newspapers and magazines.


Assignments and Grading: 


All students must complete all of the following assignments:


(1) Reading, attendance and participation in class discussions (15% of course grade)

• Each student is expected to do all of the assigned readings and attend all class sessions

• Each student is expected to engage in classroom discussions, reflecting on the topic and readings

• In class discussions, the quality of contributions is more important than the quantity of contributions

• Participation in class discussions is not graded based on whether it is “right” or “wrong;” rather, students are expected to engage the material critically, and demonstrate an understanding and ability to apply the course material in productive ways

(2) Quizzes (20% of course grade)

• Each student must take all four quizzes (5% each)

• Quizzes consist of short answer questions (multiple choice, true-false, fill-in-the-blank, matching terms, etc.)

• Quizzes cover the course material presented that week, including readings, lectures, films, and discussions

(3) Writing assignments (20% of course grade)

• Each student will prepare and submit four two-page papers on assigned topics pertaining to the weekly videos (5% each)

• The papers should be typed, 10 or 12 point font, 1 inch margins, double spaced

• For out-of-class assignments, students are expected to do their own work – see the policy on plagiarism and cheating; this policy will be enforced with no exceptions
Click here for tips on writing papers for this course

Click here for Soc 492 writing assignments

Click here for Soc 592 writing assignments

(4) Discussions on current topics (15% of course grade)

• Each student will lead a 25-30 minute discussion on a topic of current interest pertaining to the environment or natural resources management

• The discussion leader should select their topic from a current newspaper or magazine, and should submit the article to the professor two days before their discussion with a list of discussion questions

• The discussion leader should prepare and give a short presentation on the article to the class, focusing on the social and policy dimensions of the environmental issues

• The discussion leader should then facilitate a class discussion on the topic, encouraging participation by all members of the class.  The responsibility of the discussion leader in this exercise is not to act as “expert” or “judge;” rather, the discussion leader is to get other students talking about the topic, mediate the contributions of other students to keep the discussion focused, and guide the discussion to ensure that the social and policy issues are covered
Click here for guidelines on leading a discussion

• Click here for a schedule of discussion leaders

(5) Final Exam (20% of course grade)

      • All students MUST take the final exam, scheduled for the last day of the semester

      • The final exam is comprehensive, and consists of short answer and essay questions

(6) Discretionary (10% of course grade)

      • The instructor will evaluate each student’s performance based on factors such as the motivation, interest, and improvement the student demonstrates


There are a total of 100 points available for the semester.  Students that accumulate 90 or more points will get an “A,” students that accumulate 80 to 89 points will get a “B,” students that accumulate 70 to 79 points will get a “C,” students that accumulate 60 to 69 points will get a “D,” and students that accumulate less than 60 points will get an “F.”  Note that you start with zero and earn points; you do not start with 100 and lose points.


Students that comply with all course requirements and submit all of the assignments on time and satisfactorily can expect a “C” grade in this course.  To receive a higher grade, students must go beyond the minimum requirements, demonstrating a superior grasp of course material and an ability to apply the material in productive ways, an interest in the course material and in learning, and an achievement-based orientation.


Policies and Expectations:


(1)  Students are responsible for learning the course material and for their progress in the course

      • Students are expected to attend class regularly and complete all of the assignments.  Students are expected to know all material presented during class sessions, whether the student attended the class or not.

      • Students that miss a class session should check with another student to see what they missed.  “I didn’t know” is NEVER a valid excuse.  If you don’t know something, it is your job to find out.


(2)  Missed assignments cannot be made up

      • It is assumed that if a student misses class or an assignment for anything other than documented illness or emergency, he/she is making a choice that prioritizes other activities above the class.  For this reason, no work can be made up unless the reason for the absence or missed assignment is documented.

      • Assignments are due at the time specified; no late assignments will be accepted without a valid, written excuse from a doctor or previous arrangement with the instructor.

      • Illnesses and emergencies pertain only to the student, not to the student’s family, friends or others.

      • If a student must miss class or an assignment for something other than illness or an emergency, the student should make arrangements with the instructor BEFORE the missed class or assignment; any arrangements after the event will require documentation with no exceptions.

      • Appropriate accommodations will be made for students with medical problems or diagnosed disabilities.  Have Dr. Richard Houston at the Reily Health Center (846-4690) contact the course instructor to make arrangements.


(3)  Class discussion is an important element in this course

      • The purpose of the discussion is to provide students with an opportunity to practice thinking skills in a safe environment.

      • In discussions, students are encouraged to explore ideas presented in the readings, lectures, and films, to think about and apply concepts, and to develop arguments and evaluate evidence.

      • Students must demonstrate appropriate respect the opinions and ideas of other students.  Students that repeatedly show disrespect for other students will be asked to leave the classroom.

      • Class discussions are not a time for students to chat with each other about topics not related to the course.  Talking privately with other students while the rest of the class is trying to carry on a discussion is disruptive, bothersome, and disrespectful to other students and to the professor.  Students that repeatedly talk out of turn will be asked to leave the classroom.

      • It is acceptable (and encouraged) to disagree with the perspectives of other students, but students should phrase this to show disagreement with the idea or opinion, not with the person presenting the idea or opinion.

      • Students asked to leave the classroom for disruptive or disrespectful behavior cannot make up any work they miss as a result.


(4)  Students are expected to comply with all academic standards and ethics as defined in the DSU Bulletin and Handbook

      • Students are expected to do their own work in this course.  Plagiarism and other forms of cheating will not be tolerated.

      • Click here if you are unsure what constitutes plagiarism.  If it is still unclear, see the instructor.  IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO UNDERSTAND THESE GUIDELINES.  If at some point in the semester you are suspected of committing plagiarism, pleas of “I didn’t know what plagiarism was” will not be accepted.

      • The sanctions for plagiarism are outlined on the web page linked above.  Make sure you are aware of these before you submit any work in this class.

Course Outline

Week 1:  Conceptual Framework






May 27

Course Introduction; Themes and Topics; Review Syllabus




May 28

Natural Resources & Environmental Sociology


Dunlap & Catton (2002)

Buttel (2002)


May 29

Paradigms and Theories


Catton & Dunlap (1978)

Buttel (1976)


May 30

Ecological Disorganization

Quiz No. 1

Schnaiberg & Gould,

   ch. 1 & 2


Week 2:  Land






June 2



Bromley (1989)

Geisler (1993)


June 3





June 4

Protected Areas


McNeely (1994)

Wright & Mattson (1996)


June 5

Discussion on Current Topics

Writing Assignment No. 1 Due

Current topics articles


June 6

Treadmill of Production

Quiz No. 2

Schnaiberg & Gould,

   ch. 3 & 4


Week 3:  Plants and Animals






June 9





June 10



Kummer & Turner (1994)

Lynch (1998)


June 11

Environmental Education; Conservation Law Enforcement

Writing Assignment No. 2 Due

Herremans & Reid (2002)

Pendleton (1998)


June 12

Discussion on Current Topics


Current topics articles


June 13

Strategies and Solutions

Quiz No. 3

Schnaiberg & Gould,

   ch. 5 & 6


Week 4:  Air and Water






June 16



Ringquist (1993)

Hockenstein et al. (1997)


June 17





June 18

Environmental Justice


Sapat et al. (2002)

McGowan (2003)

Mohai (2003)


June 19

Discussion on Current Topics

Writing Assignment No. 3 Due

Current topics articles


June 20

Social Movements

Quiz No. 4

Schnaiberg & Gould,

   ch. 7 & 8


Week 5:  Sustainable Development






June 23

Population and Environment


Cernea (1993)

Population Reports (2000)


June 24





June 25



Schnaiberg & Gould,

   ch. 9 & 10


June 26

Discussion on Current Topics; Review for Final Exam

Writing Assignment No. 4 Due

Current topics articles


June 27

Final Exam

Course Evaluation

Final Exam




Additional Readings


Bromley, Daniel W. 1989. Property relations and economic development: the other land reform. World Development 17(6):867–877.


Buttel, Frederick H. 1976. Social science and the environment: competing theories. Social Science Quarterly 57(2):307–323.


Buttel, Frederick H. 2002. Environmental sociology and the sociology of natural resources: institutional histories and intellectual legacies. Society and Natural Resources 15:205–211.


Catton, William R., Jr. and Riley E. Dunlap. 1978. Environmental sociology: a new paradigm. The American Sociologist 13:41–49.


Cernea, Michael M. 1993. The sociologist’s approach to sustainable development. Finance & Development 30(4):11–13.


Dunlap, Riley E. and William R. Catton, Jr. 2002. Which function(s) of the environment do we study? A comparison of environmental and natural resource sociology. Society and Natural Resources 15:239–249.


Geisler, Charles. 1993. Ownership: an overview. Rural Sociology 58(4):532–546.


Herremans, Irene M. and Robin E. Reid. 2002. Developing awareness of the sustainability concept. Journal of Environmental Education 34(1):16–20.


Hockenstein, Jeremy B., Robert N. Stavins, and Bradley W. Whitehead. 1997. Crafting the next generation of market-based environmental tools. Environment 39(4):12–33.


Kummer, David M. and B.L. Turner II. 1994. The human causes of deforestation in Southeast Asia. BioScience 44(5):323–328.


Lynch, Owen J. 1998. Law, pluralism and the promotion of sustainable community-based forest management. Unasylva 49(3):52–56.


McGowan, Alan H. 2003. Environmental justice for all. Environment 45(5):1.


McNeely, Jeffrey A. 1994. Protected areas for the 21st century: working to provide benefits to society. Biodiversity and Conservation 3:390–405.


Mohai, Paul. 2003. African American concern for the environment. Environment 45(5):10–26.


Pendleton, Michael R. 1998. Policing the park: understanding soft enforcement. Journal or Leisure Research 30(4):552–571.


Population Reports. 2000. The Earth and its people/Toward a livable future. Population Reports 28(3).


Ringquist, Evan J. 1993. Does regulation matter? Evaluating the effects of state air pollution control programs. Journal of Politics 55(4):1022–1045.


Sapat, Alka, Jaap J. Vos, and Khi V. Thai. 2002. Environmental injustice: an emerging public policy issue. International Journal of Public Administration 25(2&3):143–168.


Wright, R. Gerald and David J. Mattson. 1996. The origin and purpose of national parks and protected areas. In R. Gerald Wright (editor), National Parks and Protected Areas: Their Role in Environmental Protection. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Science.