Environmental Studies (ENVS) 435

Case Studies in Environmental Protection: Popular Education, Community Sustainability, and Global Connections (Revision 3)

ENVS 435 course cover

Revision 3 is closed for registrations, replaced by current version

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: None

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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ENVS 435 is a senior-level, 3-credit social science course. It’s an individualized-study version of an international field course in participatory education with an emphasis upon community-based environmental issues. Designed by adult educators and community workers in Canada and Asia, the course was field tested in Alberta and Newfoundland. A key to the design of the course is the contribution by groups involved in the environmental controversies and community development issues in Canada. Their issues form the basis for case studies on parks and tourism, consumerism, pulp mills, and river diversion.

Each case study has three sections: local issues; practical skills and popular education techniques; and global connections. Students are expected to conduct a series of workshops and interviews through which they will learn how to analyze the methods others use to address local environmental issues. This will help them to identify their own and other people’s worldviews, issues in their communities, and possible solutions to achieving sustainability.


Upon completion of ENVS 435, students should be able to achieve the following course learning objectives:

  • Describe the environmental issues presented in each community study, their relationship to development issues, and their ecological impacts on the community.
  • Carry out small group workshops relating to environmental themes.
  • Explain how different ways of knowing and different worldviews influence people's perceptions of their relationship to nature and the environment.
  • Apply basic ecological principles and give examples of how our understanding of these principles can be shaped by culture and, in some cases, by gender.
  • Assess critically various kinds of local or traditional knowledge and their relationship to expert knowledge.
  • Identify how participatory development and participatory research methods prove effective or ineffective as strategies for facilitating community-based environmental education, analysis, and social change.
  • Evaluate critically a local program designed to improve public participation and community development around an environmental issue.
  • Develop a cross-cultural critique of environmental impact assessment and compare and contrast North American versus Asian strategies for altering the assessment process for the benefit of communities.
  • Develop workshop facilitation skills.
  • Understand alternative strategies for the creation of sustainable communities, and analyse the sustainability of your own community using the ecological footprint and sustainability indicators.
  • Take action towards a more sustainable lifestyle personally, and for your community.


  • Unit 1: Popular Education, Environment, and Community Development
  • Unit 2: Notions About Ecology
  • Unit 3: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Nature
  • Unit 4: Environmental Impact Assessment and Community Participation
  • Unit 5: Strategies and Tactics for Community Environmental Protection
  • Unit 6: The Dilemma of Tourism and Parks and Protected Areas
  • Unit 7: Consumerism


To receive credit for this course, you must complete seven written assignments and achieve a minimum grade of “60” percent on Assignment 7, the major essay. In addition, you must achieve a minimum composite course grade of “D” (50 percent). The chart below summarizes the course activities and the credit weight associated with each assignment.

Assignment 1 Assignments 2 to 6 @15% each Assignment 7 Total
pass/fail 75% 25% 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials

The course materials also include a study guide, a student manual and assignment manual, and a reading file.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 3, April 1, 2008.

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