2012-13 Catalog

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Offering Description

Protected Areas and Environmental Justice

Spring 2013 quarter

Ted Whitesell geography, environmental studies

This graduate elective is focused on the following question:   Can protected area policies achieve conservation objectives while respecting and furthering the rights and interests of peoples with long historical and cultural ties to such areas?   We now stand at a critical juncture in the history of protected area designation and management, at home and abroad.   As the human capacity to transform the landscape, the waters, and the atmosphere of the planet reaches unprecedented levels, the isolation of natural areas from human occupation and use is being increasingly challenged as an inappropriate or misguided policy.   Resident (especially indigenous) peoples often see the traditional, exclusionary model of nature protection as a form of environmental injustice.   For protected area managers, regulatory enforcement has become difficult or impossible in traditional nature reserves of the world’s poorest countries.   Within academia, increasing numbers of scholars are challenging the conceptual basis of wilderness preservation and national parks, while other scholars staunchly defend preservation as the best policy by which to stem the massive tide of global extinctions.   As a result, an impasse has been reached in protected area policy.   The choice of conservation strategies today will have lasting consequences for future ecosystems and peoples.   Endangered species and cultural traditions can be lost by a misstep in either direction, i.e., through precipitous policy shifts or through stubborn adherence to misguided policies.   In this course, we will attempt to first understand this impasse and then to look beyond it, toward the most likely short-term, medium-term and long-term strategies for achieving lasting natural area preservation with social justice.   Readings will be drawn from fields such as geography, history, conservation biology, and political ecology.   Theoretical debates will be grounded in case studies from North America and other world regions.

2013 Syllabus


Faculty Bio:

Ted Whitesell is a broadly trained cultural geographer with special interests in political ecology and conservation.  As a freshman at the University of Colorado, Ted co-founded the CU Wilderness Study Group. After graduation, Ted ran the Colorado Wilderness Workshop, the only statewide preservation organization at the time. From 1975 to 1985, he was a leader of the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, campaigning to secure designation of the first wilderness areas in the Tongass National Forest. He was recognized as the most accomplished environmental leader in the country of 25 years of age or less by the Tyler Foundation.  Later, he earned a Ph.D. in geography from the University of California, Berkeley, investigating grassroots proposals for conservation and development in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil . Ted came to The Evergreen State College in 1998 and is affiliated with two planning units – Environmental Studies and Sustainability & Justice.  His students published a major book in April 2004, called Defending Wild Washington (The Mountaineers Books). His most recent research was a collaborative investigation of tribal perspectives on marine protected areas in western Washington.


Advertised Schedule
6-10p Mon
Online Learning
No Required Online Learning
Greener Store
Undergraduate Credit Option
Requires Faculty Approval
Offered During