Social Movements

Instructor Name: 
David Osborn
Course Description: 

Forests, Narratives and Social Movements

Social movements have shaped the world we live in and are one of the most important sources of social change. They often organize to address issues of inequity, oppression or prejudice in local, regional, national and transnational spheres. They arise to address factual situations: the number of people without health care, levels of air pollution, racial profiling, unemployment, deaths in war or the destruction of the environment. However, facts alone are not sufficient to create social change.

Narratives are needed to provide the stories that inspire, give meaning and unite motivation, strategy and action. With regard to environmental issues of critical important are those stories we tell ourselves about who we are as humans and what relationships we have to "nature" and other living beings.

In the Pacific NW there have been major conflicts over forests. Course participants will investigate understandings of social movements, including forest defense and ecological movements related to forests activism of the last thirty years, and the role of narratives in social change. We will also ground our exploration in the history of colonization and how that has shaped the landscape and our perspectives about nature.

Students will work the community partner, Bark, to explore the evolution of (1) our relationship to forests and the environment in the Pacific NW and (2) narratives about that relationship, forests and activism. Students will assist Bark in their community-based work to protect the Mt. Hood National Forest. Three field days in service to the community partner will be required as part of this course. We will go out into the forest with Bark to help them continue a project that aims to reintroduce beavers to the Mt. Hood National Forest, which was begun by this Capstone in 2017. Even if you don't regularly go out to the forest don't worry, it is fun and Bark can help make it comfortable and enjoyable for everyone. It will also be beautiful spring weather, a perfect time to be in the forest!