Waste in the World
The things that human beings make and throw away rarely stay where we put them. Just as humans have shaped the biological and physical world, the biological and physical world shapes human actions. In this course, we will examine how these interacting forces propel environmental and cultural change. We will explore these concepts through the lens of waste - how different groups at different points in history define waste, where discarded things go and what they become as they move through space and time. We will consider how conflicting perceptions of utility and waste in different cultural and historical contexts have factored into shifting ideas about race, class, gender, wilderness, technology, consumption, and sovereignty. In rethinking waste, we will explore the multiple meanings of "nature," assess the roots of sustainability, and evaluate past events in light of current ideas about environmental justice. While this course prioritizes reading and discussion, we will also engage with the world around us through visual analysis. Pasadena and Los Angeles will be among our most important resources, allowing us to ground global ideas in a local context.