Ariadne's Thread

Environmental Studies at the University of Essex

Category: Weekly Summary

Summary: Week 8

by jacobbhunter

Bike, Jakarta Indonesia. Picture taken by Jonathan McIntosh, 2004. cc-by-2.0

The purpose of this series of posts is to provide an accessible reminder of the week’s compulsory classes. As such it’s of most interest to current students on one of the environmental master’s courses.

Disclaimer: as I’m writing this week do watch out for clanging errors!

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Ariadne’s Thread: Week 4 Summary

by ariadnesthread101

Wow. Is it Week 4 already?! We’ve been here a month!

Today’s study session was our giggliest yet – lots of laughing! Here’s a summary of the points which we covered.  I’ll soon post the others from previous weeks. Starting today I’m also going to use categories on the blog. I’ll categorize the weekly summaries quite distinctly so you can, hopefully, flick through them all easily at the end of term if you want.

This post is the first one I am writing with help from Sabrina, who has volunteered to help out! Hi Sabrina 🙂 I hope you don’t mind me giving you a big internet wave of thanks 🙂 Sabrina and I will be working together on what we hope is a fun, interesting and useful set of posts each week. We hope this helps you connect the dots between the courses and helps you if you find yourself lost in any sort of maze 😛

On that note: In this week’s study session, we reviewed key points from the following modules:

This week, we divided into three groups to present stakeholder perspectives on whether to fly during an angry-volcano-spewing-ash situation. The three stakeholder groups were: The government, the Civil Aviation Authority and the Airlines. (Review notes for making presentations are uploaded in a previous post). Groups worked out what their stakeholder position would be and presented to a ‘jury’. When we reviewed this exercise, we discussed the influence of having pre-determined stakeholder groups. Who picks stakeholders? We discussed, for example, whether members of the public or pilots should have been groups. The range and term of the debate would then have been widened. It is possible to imagine that if you control the process of grouping stakeholders, you can also have some control over the outcome.

In Ecology and Natural Resources, the class encountered a bunch of new terms and concepts giving a background to the science of ecology and its applications to natural resource management. Two which we particularly discussed were habitats (the physical environment in which species live) and niches (the distinct conditions exploited by particular species). The distinction is important for resource management. If you were making conservation plans for a single species, for example, you would do well to start with a good understanding of its niche. This brought us to the cross-cutting idea of scale. Habitats are ‘one level up’ from niches.

 Which scale you choose to focus on depends on what your management goals are. 

And finally, in Politics and Society, though we were meant to touch on Consumption this week, the class discussion was still very much focused on previous material, including issues of ecological modernisation, Ecological Marxism, the contradictions of capitalism and World-Systems theory. We talked about why it is important to learn about this piece of theory within a masters in Environmental Governance. How does it contribute to our field of interest? Our answer lay in the insight that human activities, like economic flows in a globalised world, influence the environment, and we need to understand these processes in order to manage global environmental change or the local effects of global processes. Which relates back to the issue of scale and scale effects – another important, cross-cutting idea:

Events or phenomena at one scale can be caused by social, economic or ecological events at other scales. That is why it is important to understand multiple scales (global / regional / local) and identify how one scale influences the others above and below it. 

During the rest of the session we spent time in pairs looking at an example of a good Politics and Society essay. The key points we covered here are in the next post.

Good work this week everyone! I hope this overview was useful!

And now, TGIF, & goodnight!