Women have played key roles in the environmental movement. In 1962, Rachel Carson’s book Silent Springarguably catalyzed the U.S. movement through her documentation of unsafe pesticide use. In Africa, Wangari Maathai powerfully advocated for tree planting and founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977. For decades, Vandana Shiva has actively resisted the incursion of industrial agriculture into India due to its environmental and social impacts. The world-over girls and women have been among the most outspoken anti-nuclear and climate change activists. Our learning community will explore the contributions of female-identified thought-leaders working to create a sustainable and environmentally just future.
Feminized nature is widely placed in a binary with masculinized culture. According to Stacy Alaimo in her book Undomesticated Ground, “Disrupting the opposition between nature and culture opens up spaces for feminisms that neither totally affirm nor totally deny difference. Feminism can instead cobble together a myriad of adulterated alternatives that neither seek an unattained, utterly female space outside of culture nor cast off bodies, matter, and nature as that which is forever debased. Since the opposition between nature and culture is so fundamental to Western thought, however, reformulating these categories is no small matter” (10). In this program, we examine how gender essentialism undermines sustainable relations with nature due to deeply rooted misogyny in heteropatriarchal societies. Students will learn new analytical tools through feminist and queer theory as well as readings from the history of science.