Energy, Culture, and Social Organization

Status message

  • Active context: courses_slideshow
  • Active context: courses
  • Active context: course_page
  • Active context: sitewide
Course Number: 
100 Lewis
Barbara Rose Johnston
Tu Th 9:30 - 11

Laura Nader is very happy the Anthropology Dept. is able to bring Barbara Johnston to Berkeley to teach Energy, Culture, and Social Organization this coming Spring.  Professor Nader recomended Barbara and is very excited for our students to have the opportunity to experience her in the classroom. Professor Nader will be on sabatical this coming Spring.


This course provides students with the integrative perspectives needed to understand the energy/culture/society nexus as a dynamic site where resource relations are defined, contested, and transformed; and, to understand and differentiate between energy policies that prioritize short-term interests over longer-term sustainability concerns. Course content is explored through interdisciplinary readings, films, lectures, and guest speakers.  Methods used to engage course content include assumption testing; comparison with other countries, cultures and other times; critical evaluation of the architecture and function of environmental governance; and, consideration of the biocultural consequences of policy implementation.

Methods are applied through case-specific analysis of the history, issues, and concerns of two non-fossil-fuel industries accepted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as alternative sources of energy: hydroelectricity generated from the development of large dams and nuclear power.  In the last part of the course, we explore energy, culture and social organization through the lens of current events and contestations over energy futures and a focus on struggles to secure environmental quality and social justice. By the end of this course students will have developed an understanding of: (1) the interconnectivity of human and environmental systems; (2) the cumulative and synergistic effects of energy choices on the environment, culture, and society; and, (3) the power of knowledge in generating agency and, thus, the potential means to change societal priorities and actions.