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The paper must be 7-10 pages in length in 12-point Times New Roman or a comparable serif font. In your paper you will articulate and defend a concrete thesis claim of your own construction. You will defend this claim by referring to texts and concepts that we have discussed together throughout the class. In constructing your argument, you must engage with the work of at least two of the authors that we read in the course. You must provide direct quotations from each author, and explain their meaning and relevance for your overall argument.
Here are several suggestions for the kinds of themes, topics, and questions that you might take up in constructing your paper. Your thesis might not necessarily respond to any of these; they are intended to give you a sense for what an appropriate paper might look like. However, it is perfectly acceptable if your thesis does directly respond to one of these if you so desire.
1. The environment and ethics
What do we understand by the environment, or nature? How do we relate to it? What kinds of concerns are involved in developing an ethical relationship with the environment? At what level is such ethical action significant—individuals, groups, institutions, businesses, governments, transnational NGOs? What are some reasons why we might be interested in cultivating an ethical relationship with the environment? What are some obstacles to developing this kind of relationship, and how might they be overcome?
2. Capitalism, globalization, and the environment
What is the significance of an analysis of the logic of capitalist development and modes of social organization for an understanding of environmental or ecological concerns? How have the processes of globalization that began in the 1970s, as a historically novel form of capitalist development, impacted the environment? How does global capitalism cause or exacerbate ecological problems, and how does it help create the conditions for solving them?
3. Environmental ethics, race, and gender
How do environmental issues relate to racial and gendered social divisions? What ethical questions arise when we consider environmental issues in light of these forms of social differentiation? How does the international division of labor, considered in its racial and gendered aspects, play a role in shaping how we understand and respond to ecological problems?
4. Analysis of a particular ecological issue
Use your paper to develop an analysis of a specific ecological or environmental issue, drawing on the conceptual and theoretical resources from at least two of the texts we read. The issue can be analyzed in its general form, or as a matter of investigating a particular case study. Some viable issues to explore might include agricultural production and/or food politics; waste production and management; urbanization and modernization; energy production; biodiversity and extinction; and climate justice.