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A sociological approach to human-environment relations

Environment and Society relates to a diverse audience and encompasses viewpoints from a variety of natural and social science approaches.

This integrative book about human-environment relations connects many issues about human societies, ecological systems, and environments with data and perspectives from different fields of study. Its viewpoint is primarily sociological and it is designed for courses in Environmental Sociology and Environmental Issues, or taught in departments of Sociology, Environmental Studies, Anthropology, Political Science, and Human Geography.

Learning Goals

Upon completing this book, readers should be able to:

  • Understand how environmental problems relate to human behavior, culture, and social institutions
  • Evaluate suggestions for changing the human-environment relationship to a more “sustainable” environment, society, and world order
  • Recognize the importance of worldviews and paradigms that have implicit basic assumptions about the “way the world works” and see how they shape the scholarship of experts in different fields
  • Examine the work and perspectives of economists, political scientists, anthropologists, geographers and policy analysts as they address environmental and ecological issues

Note: MySearchLab does not come automatically packaged with this text. To purchase MySearchLab, please visit: www.mysearchlab.com or you can purchase a ValuePack of the text + MySearchLab with Pearson eText (at no additional cost). ValuePack ISBN-10: 0205863639 / ValuePack ISBN-13: 9780205863631

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780205863631
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 12/5/2011
  • Edition number: 5
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,304,365
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Harper is a professor of sociology at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. As a member of the faculty there since 1968, he has developed and taught numerous courses in the sociology department. Dr. Harper’s teaching and scholarly interests inolve the study of social change, globalization, the sociology of religion, social theory, and environmental sociology. He has published papers in a variety of academic journals.

Along with Environment and Society, Dr. Harper is the author of two other textbooks. Co-authored with Kevin Leicht, his book Exploring Social Change: America and the World (Prentice Hall, 2007) is now in its Fifth Edition. Another book, Food, Society, and Environment (Prentice Hall, 2003) was co-authored with Bryan F. LeBeau. .

As an undergraduate, Dr. Harper studied biology and the natural sciences. He received a bachelor’s degree from Central Missouri State University, a Master’s degree in sociology from the University of Missouri, and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

He and his wife, Anne, live close to Creighton’s campus near a “clan” of adult children, stepchildren, and grandchildren. He also enjoys traveling, bicycling, and reading.

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Table of Contents





Chapter 1: Environment, Human Systems, and Social Science

Chapter 2: Humans and the Resources of the Earth: Sources and Sinks

Chapter 3: Global Climate Change

Chapter 4: Energy and Society

Chapter 5: Population, Environment, and Food

Chapter 6: Globalization, Growth, and Sustainability

Chapter 7: Transforming Structures: Markets and Politics

Chapter 8: Environmentalism: Ideology and Collective Action



Chapter 1: Environment, Human Systems, and Social Science

Ecocatastrophe or Ecohype?

Ecosystems: Concepts and Components

Sociocultural Systems

Ecosystem and Sociocultural Evolution: Human Ecology

Environmental Social Sciences

Conclusion: Environment, Ecosystems, and Human Systems

Personal Connections

Chapter 2: Humans and the Resources of the Earth: Sources and Sinks

Land and Soil

Water Resources

Biodiversity and Forests

Wastes and Pollution

Conclusion: The Resources of the Earth

Personal Connections

Chapter 3: Global Climate Change

Ozone Depletion and Ultraviolet Radiation

Turning Up the Heat: Global Warming

Do We Know Enough to Act?

Policy Options: What Could Be Done about Global Warming?

Personal Connections

Chapter 4: Energy and Society

A Historical Detour: Recent Energy Crises

Energy Problems: Environmental and Social

The Energetics of Human Societies

The Present Energy System and Its Alternatives

Barriers, Transitions, and Energy Policy

In Summary: Energy and the Risks We Take

Personal Connections

Chapter 5: Population, Environment, and Food

The Dynamics of Population Change

How Serious Is the Problem of World Population Growth?

Making Sense Out of This Controversy

Population, Food, and Hunger

Feeding Eight Billion People in the Next Fifty Years?

Stabilizing World Population: Policy Options


Personal Connections

Chapter 6: Globalization, Growth, and Sustainability



Growth and Sustainability: Two Perspectives

Sustainable Societies?

Transformations and Sustainability: Social Change

Conclusion: A Transformation to Sustainability?

Personal Connections

Chapter 7: Transforming Structures: Markets and Politics


Politics and Policy

Possible Levers for Progress

The Global Political Economy and the Environment


Personal Connections

Chapter 8: Environmentalism: Ideology and Collective Action

American Environmentalism

Global Environmentalism

Environmentalism and Change

Environmentalism: How Successful?

In Conclusion

Personal Connections



Name Index

Subject Index

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