ENV381 Topics in Internet and Environment 2 Social Media and Environmentalism Syllabus

University of Toronto, Winter 2016


About This Course

This special topics course will examine a range of issues related to the environment and the digital world, with a broad focus on the impacts of social media on environmental thinking and policy-making. It is the second of two new Special Topics courses on the Environment and the Digital World. This course builds on the ideas explored in ENV281F, but does not require it as a pre-requisite. Contemporary experience of environmentalist thought is increasingly mediated through internet technologies. The dynamics of how people engage with social media often determine how they learn about topics such as climate change, environmental policy, and the nature of protest movements. At the same time, the power of governments and corporations to conduct mass surveillance via the internet can have a chilling effect on those who express dissent over social, economic and environmental policy. The current generation of students has grown up with social media, but often lacks the opportunity to step back and think critically about its broader consequences, especially in the face of grand societal and environmental challenges. The aim of the course is to engage students in the School of Environment in critical thinking about the impacts and ethics of social media, and the ways in which it is used to foster or stifle social change. Topics include the use of social media as a tool for community-building and collaborative design, the sharing economy, online protest movements, mass surveillance and its implications, and the impact of misinformation on climate denialism