April 23, 2009
Source: Piedmont 2005

Capra, Monica
Department of Economics


Project Summary

Before the 2-day Piedmont workshop in May, I considered including in my syllabus a separate section on the environment. The workshop, however, helped me see things differently. The discussions and presentations helped me realize that the environment is intertwined with everything I teach. Discussing it separately, isolated from other topics, is simply not right. Thus, instead of introducing a “separate” section on the environment, I have decided to add readings in “all” of the sections that I cover. Below I provide a few examples of how I have introduced environmental topics to my syllabus.

My class is divided into nine sections. The first section (see syllabus) provides an introduction to development and the different ways in which economists have defined it. Previously, I had excluded sustainable development from this section, which I think provided an incomplete introduction to the subject. The new added readings, shown in highlighted text, are meant to complete the definition of development.

Sections three through five are devoted to the policies of the 1990s and the international push towards economic liberalization. Given that some environmental activists are also “anti-globalization,” I decided to add to the discussion readings on the environmental impact of privatization and trade liberalization. This would provide students with a more balanced view about the benefits and costs of greater international integration. The reading on water and the role of the public sector (seProxy-Connection: keep-alive
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syllabus) is of particular interest to me because it challenges traditional ideas on privatizing basic services.

Finally, sections six through eight are devoted to social and economic issues. Poverty and inequality are linked to environmental degradation. The videos I will show in class should provide the students with a visual understanding of how being poor forces people to sacrifice their long-run well-being. This short-term way of thinking inevitably leads to over-exploitation of resources and displacement of indigenous peoples. The readings I chose for my new syllabus emphasize how indigenous communities can combat poverty in a sustainable and ethical manner.

Course Syllabus attached

Download: Capra_2005.pdf (170.3 KB)

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