Fifteen claims: social change and power in environmental studies

  • Michael ManiatesEmail author
  • Thomas Princen


Claims about social change and the dynamics of power permeate the environmental science and studies (ESS) curriculum. These claims are frequently implicit, under examined, and contradictory. Their acritical internalization by students and faculty can undermine the efficacy and relevance of an ESS education. This essay describes 15 such claims and summarizes patterns of ESS student response from three workshops. We make no argument about which claims are superior, how social change occurs, or how political power is best analyzed. Instead, we seek to encourage those who design and deliver ESS programs to become more self-critical and intentional when disseminating, however unwittingly, claims about power and social change.


Social change Power ESS curriculum 



The authors thank D Fuchs, A Di Giulio, K Glaab, S Lorek, and I Røpke for the helpful conversations that contributed to the formulation of this paper. Michael Maniates acknowledges with gratitude the support of Yale-NUS College (through grant number R-607-264-049-121).


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Copyright information

© AESS 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Yale-NUS CollegeSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.School of Environment and Natural ResourcesUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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