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Ecological Feminist Perspectives (Eaton)

Course Title

Ecological Feminist Perspectives
THO 6343/6368

   
Instructor(s)

Heather Eaton
St. Paul University
University of Ottawa

   
Discipline

Feminist Studies

   
Subject(s)

Ecology, Feminist Studies

   
Pedagogical Level

Undergraduate

   
Date

Winter 1999

   
Presentation

St. Paul University

   
Overview

Course Description
This course is an introduction to the central themes of ecofeminist theory and praxis. We will study ecological feminism from global perspectives, and examine how this discourse and movement are engaged in intense cultural critique, exposing systems of domination, and involved in establishing equality and developing mutually enhancing human-earth relations. The feminist and ecological questions in theology and religious consciousness will be discussed throughout.

Objectives

  1. To study in depth the development of the joining of the ecological and feminist analyses-ecofeminism-including the internal debates in the evolution of ecofeminism.

  2. To appreciate both the cultural-symbolic and the socio-political levels of ecofeminism, including both Northern and Southern perspectives.

  3. To bring ecofeminism to bear on theological and religious discourses, and understand the radical challenge that ecofeminism poses to classical religious interpretations.

  4. To discover that the intersection between ecofeminism and religious awareness contains cultural and political transformative potential for social and ecological improvement.

Work load
Readings and class discussion are the priority of the course. Readings are required for each week, and the discussions are based on the readings. Most of the work for this course concerns this aspect.

  1. Readings and class discussion
  2. Presentation
  3. Final project or take-home exam
   
Prerequisites

None listed

   
Requirements

There are four requirements for this course (described below)

10 one-page papers based on weekly readings
or 1 ten-page paper (project)
40%
1 three-page paper based on a presentation and discussion
15%
An oral or take home exam, synthesis paper or reflection paper (5–7 pages)
20%
Personal evaluation
15%

 

  1. Ten One Page Papers/One Ten Page Paper
    There are two options:

    1. A one-page position paper each week based on a question related to the readings. Each week a general question will be asked concerning the readings. The position papers are to be written as follows: the response to the question is in two parts: the first is a thesis statement of no more than 20 words. The remainder of the page is an illustration or development of the thesis. This is to be one-page and double-spaced-no more. DUE EACH WEEK AT THE BEGINNING OF CLASS. (Papers will not be accepted after the discussion as the method involves inductive learning.) 10 papers due . . . will take best ten if more are done. or
    2. A project which could be a ten page research paper or a creative project of your own design. Options are very open to a wide variety of mediums. Please consult with me before beginning a project, especially if it is particularly wild. Due on March 9th-no later


  2. One Three-Page Paper (based on a presentation and discussion).
    A presentation is required in class, and a three-page paper outlining the process of reflection is due the week after the presentation, from each person. The presentation itself is not marked, although required.


  3. An Oral or Take-home Exam, Synthesis Paper, or Reflection Paper
    There are four choices here:

    1. A final synthesis paper to be handed in on April 14th involving a synthesis of the course. Guidelines will be given in class. Maximum 7 pages.
    2. A reflection paper from a personal perspective-due April 14th. Maximum 7 pages.
    3. d. A take-home or oral exam, handed out March 30 and due April 14th, consisting of four questions and you must choose two. Maximum 7 pages in total. For the oral, you prepare two, and one will be chosen at the oral exam (15 minutes).


  4. Auto-Evaluation
    An auto-evaluation of your work throughout the course, based on work accomplished, engagement, learning, etc.
   
Evaluation

Grades/Course Evaluation

General Grading System

Class Participation
15%
Presentation
35%
Final Project or Exam
50%

More Specific Course Grading System

Paper (10 one page, or 1-ten page)
50%
Final Exam/Paper
35%
Personal Evaluation
15%
Professor’s Discretion
5%
Papers
35%
Participation
15%
Final Project
50%
   
Texts see “Assigned Reading”under the “Course Schedule” area
   
Schedule  
Part I: Introduction
Jan 5

Introduction

Introduction to class members, interests and course syllabus. Introduction to aspects of the course.

Jan 12

Starting Points

Assigned Reading

  • Warren, Karen. “Taking Empirical Data Seriously.” In Ecofeminism: Women, Culture Nature, ed. Karen J. Warren, 3–14. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1997.
  • Kelly, Petra. “Women and Power.” In Ecological Feminism, ed. Karen J. Warren, 112–119. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1997.
  • Brown, Lester. “The Future of Growth.” In State of the World 1998, 3–20. Washington, D.C.: World Watch Institute, 1988.
Video: Exposure: Environmental Links to Breast Cancer
Jan 19

Layers of the Problem

Assigned Reading

  • Lorentzen, Lois Ann, and Jennifer Turpin, eds. The Gendered New World Order: Militarism, Development and the Environment. New York: Routledge, 1996 (pp. 1–34).

Video: Marilyn Waring: Who’s Counting?

 
Part II: Roots of the Woman/Nature Connection
Jan 26

Feminizing of Nature and the Naturalizing of Women

Assigned Reading

  • Merchant, Carolyn. “Nature as Female” and “Nature as Disorder.” In The Death of Nature: Women Ecology and the Scientific Revolution, 1–41 and 127–48. San Francisco: Harper, 1980.
  • Shiva, Vandana. “Women in Nature.” In Staying Alive: Women, Ecology and Development, 38–54. London: Zed, 1989.
Feb 2

Woman, Nature, Culture: Constructs, Ideologies, Ontologies

Assigned Reading

  • Ortner, Sherry. “Is Female to Male as Nature is to Culture?” In Readings in Ecology and Feminist Theology, eds., Mary Heather MacKinnon and Moni McIntyre, 36–55. Kansas City: Sheed & Ward, 1995.
  • Salleh, Ariel. “Ecology Reframes History,” “Body Logic:1/0 Culture,” and “Man/Woman=Nature.” In Ecofeminism and Politics: Nature, Marx and the Postmodern, 3–14, 35–68. London: Zed, 1997.


Video: David Suzuki: The Damned

Feb 9

Ecofeminism and the Christian Tradition

Assigned Reading

  • Ruether, Rosemary Radford. “Ecofeminism: Symbolic and Social Connections Between the Oppression of Women and the Domination of Nature.” In Ecofeminism and the Sacred, ed. Carol Adams, 13–24. New York: Continuum, 1993.
  • Ruether, Rosemary Radford. Gaia & God: An Ecofeminist Theology of Earth Healing, 143–201. San Francisco: Harper, 1993.
Feb 16

Cosmology, Creation Narratives, and Ecological Feminism

Assigned Reading

  • Ruether, Rosemary Radford. Gaia & God, pp.15–31. San Francisco: Harper, 1993.
  • Sally McFague. “An Earthly Theological Agenda.” In Readings in Ecology and Feminist Theology, eds., Mary Heather MacKinnon and Moni McIntyre, 327–33. Kansas City: Sheed & Ward, 1995.
  • Clifford, Anne. “Feminist Perspectives on Science: Implications for an Ecological Theology of Creation.” In Readings in Ecology and Feminist Theology, eds., MacKinnon and McIntyre, 334–56. Kansas City: Sheed & Ward, 1995
 
Part III: Streams of Ecological Feminism
Mar 2

Ecological-Feminism

Assigned Reading

  • Merchant, Carolyn. “Ecofeminism.” Radical Ecology: The Search for a Livable World, 183–209. New York: Routledge, 1992.
  • Shiva, Vandana and Maria Mies. Ecofeminism, 1–20. London: Zed, 1993.
  • Spretnak, Charlene. “Critical and Constructive Contributions of Ecofeminism.” In Worldviews and Ecology, eds. Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim, 181–88. Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 1993.
  • Warren, Karen J. “The Power and the Promise of Ecological Feminism.” Readings in Ecology and Feminist Theology, eds., MacKinnon and McIntyre, 172–90. Kansas City: Sheed & Ward, 1995.
Video: Ecofeminism Now!
Mar 9 Ecofeminism and Religion

Assigned Reading

  • Howell, Nancy. “Ecofeminism: What One Needs to Know.” Zygon 32, no. 2 (June 1997): 231–140.
  • Eaton, Heather. “The Edge of the Sea: The Colonization of Ecofeminist Religions Perspectives.” Critical Review of Books in Religion 11 (1998): 57–82.
  • Ruether, Rosemary Radford, ed. Women Healing Earth: Third World Women in Ecology, Feminism and Religion, 1–8. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1996.
  • Also Read TWO of the three following essays in Ruether’s Women Healing Earth volume.

  • Gebara, Ivone. “The Trinity and Human Experience: An Ecofeminist Approach,” 13–23.
  • Gnanadason, Aruna. “Toward a Feminist Eco-Theology for India,” 74–81.
  • Ackermann, Denise, and Tahira Joyner. “Earth-Healing in South Africa: Challenges to Church and Mosque,” 121–34.

Video: Chung Hyun Kyung, World Council of Church

Mar 16

Ecofeminism and Theology

Assigned Reading

  • Primavesi, Anne. “Ecofeminism and Christian Imagery.” In From Apocalypse to Genesis: Ecology, Feminism and Christianity, 137–57. Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress, 1991.
  • Eaton, Heather. “Ecological-Feminist Theology: Contributions and Challenges.” In Theology for Earth Community, ed. Dieter Hessel, 77–92. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1996.
  • Daly, Lois. “Ecofeminism, Reverence for Life, and Feminist Theological Ethics.” In Liberating Life: Contemporary Approaches to Ecological Theology, eds. Charles Birch, William Eakin, and Jay B. McDaniel, 88–107. New York: Orbis, 1990.
Mar 23

Ecofeminism and Real Life: Theological Reflection In-Class

Assignment
The task of this and half of the class on March 30 is to take an ecological/feminist issue and to reflect theologically on the topic. A wide range of issues are possible. Some examples are listed below. I have numerous other resources. This task will be done in groups. Presentations will be no longer than half hour, which should be primarily discussion.

Assigned Reading

  • Haeusler, Sabine. “Women and the Politics of Sustainable Development.” In Feminist Perspectives on Sustainable Development, ed. Wendy Harcourt, 145–55. London: Zed, 1994.
  • Abramovitz, Janet. “Biodiversity and Gender Issues: Recognizing Common Ground.” Feminist Perspectives on Sustainable Development, ed. Wendy Harcourt, 198–209. London: Zed, 1994.
  • Agarwal, Bina. “The Gender and Environment Debate: Lessons from India.” Feminist Studies 18, no. 2 (spring 1992): 119–53.
  • Hynes, Patricia. The Recurring Silent Spring. New York: Pergamon, 1989 (180–214).
  • Kettel, Bonnie. “Women, Health, and the Environment,” unpublished paper.
  • Shiva, Mira. “Environmental Degradation and Subversion of Health.” In Close to Home: Women Reconnect Ecology, Health and Development Worldwide, ed. Vandana Shiva, 61–77. London: Zed, 1994.
  • Sen Gita. “Women, Poverty and Population: Issues for the Concerned Environmentalist.” In Feminist Perspectives on Sustainable Development, ed. Wendy Harcourt, 215–23. London: Zed, 1994.

Other possible issues:
use of language: (women, nature, feminine, feminist, mother earth, etc.) media, women, ecology role of rituals theory/praxis ecological and social stress: Rwanda, Bosnia, Sudan, Somalia, India, China rise of right wing anti-earth, anti-women religious/political movements

Mar 30 First Half: Continuation of Presentations
Second Half: Conclusion of Course
Apr 6 No Class
   
Additional Materials

Instructions for Final Assignment

There are four choices : (25%) ALL MAXIMUM SEVEN PAGES

  1. A final synthesis paper to be handed in on April 14th involving a synthesis of the course. Maximum 7 pages.
  2. A reflection paper from a personal perspective-due April 14th. Maximum 7 pages.
  3. d. A take-home or oral exam, handed out March 30 and due April 14th, consisting of four questions and you must choose two. Maximum 7 pages in total. For the oral, you prepare two, and one will be chosen at the oral exam (15 minutes).

    1. Synthesis Paper
      A synthesis paper is one whereby you examine all of the material of the course, the orientation, the guiding presuppositions as well as the arguments and discourses presented in the readings, lectures and discussion, and you synthesis (the assembling of separate or subordinate parts into a whole; opposed to analysis). This requires the capacity to integrate, to know the material sufficiently as to see the foundational issues. This DOES NOT MEAN PAGES OF GENERALIZATIONS! It means the ability to see connections, patterns, paradigms and methods woven throughout the course, integrating theses, and presenting a synthesis-to place together. It requires perspicacity (keen discernment). Subject: Ecological-feminist theology.

    2. Reflection Paper
      This choice is appropriate for those who were deeply moved, rearranged, discombobulated or otherwise challenged personally by the course. It is an opportunity to enter profoundly into this personal transformation. To do this you need to track the relationship between the course and your response/reaction, and note the journey/transformation process. This is a wise choice for those who feel a need to reflect, ponder and put some order to the dialogue with this material. If you choose this option, you need to structure the paper carefully and thoroughly prior to writing, as it is difficult to avoid rambling and a stream of consciousness flow-which is not what this type of paper is about.

    3. Examinations: Take-Home or Oral Questions for the examination are listed below.
      Please avoid great generalizations. Do not use footnotes or a bibliography, but you will want to make reference to some of the readings. Assume that you are explaining the answers to someone who is very familiar with the discourses, and you will need to think about and structure carefully your answers. You will need to CONSTRUCT the answers-with materials, choices about what goes where, and analysis. Be precise, not general. ENJOY!!!! What ever you choose, it should be a pleasure!

      Examination Questions

      Answer one question in EACH of the two sections, for a total of TWO questions.

      1.  
        1. What is ecological-feminism? OR

        2. What does it mean to say that ecological-feminism addresses the cultural symbolic level that sanctions the socio-economic underpinning of the connection between the domination of women and the domination of nature? (Ruether's definition) AND

        3. What happens when ecofeminism engages with theology, and/or the Christian tradition? OR

        4. What is, and what is not, an ecofeminist theology
 
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Coypright - 1999 Heather Eaton.
The author retains all copyrights for all syllabi materials.
Please contact each author individually for reprint rights.