Course Foci and SyllabiSyl

Teaching Philosophy

The courses I teach are primarily writing intensive and, when possible, involve a great deal of student participation. I believe writing is an important skill, so my courses challenge students to improve their writing capabilities. As the topics pertaining to globalization, governance, and the environment are complex and controversial, my teaching philosophy is to encourage students to think critically and engage intellectually with these issues. I hope to design postgraduate courses that are reading and writing intensive, and include considerable student involvement. As a graduate student, I appreciated courses in which the instructor provided background on the historical context of assigned readings, and a review of the theoretical concepts employed by the authors. I emulate this pedagogy in my own courses.  I have taught courses ranging from 2 to over 250 students, attracting students in the natural and social sciences, with positive evaluations and awards for my performance. My courses include instruction on globalization, global environmental governance, global political economy, political ecology, nature and society, neoliberalism, political economy and the environment, social theory, and social movements.

Boston College Courses:

Where do contemporary environmental problems come from? Why is it so hard to resolve serious global environmental issues? Are environmental problems really social problems? This course will compel students to explore these questions, to devise answers to them, and to learn how to understand environmental problems with sociological analytical tools and methods. Students will explore the historical origins of the contemporary world, revisit the social and environmental changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution, the World Wars, and the liberalization of capitalism, and, through first-hand research, ponder how globalization might be the start of a new environmental transformation for society.


This course provides an overview of environmental problems and issues through the lens of various perspectives in social and environmental theory. Topics will include: economic globalization and the environment; social causes and consequences of global climate destabilization; population growth and over-consumption; the promise and limits of technological solutions to environmental problems; links between poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation; and competing visions of an ecologically-sustainable society. The contributions and limits of existing sociological theories in understanding environmental issues will be an important theme throughout.


This seminar is required of seniors majoring in International Studies. It provides participants with a common vocabulary for analyzing the current international environment – politically, economically, environmentally, and socially. It also examines how to integrate cultural questions and expression into the discipline.  Students will explore possibilities for future global relationships in an informed and constructive way and exchange their views, questions and research in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust.


This course explores how ecology, technology, politics, economics, and culture intersect. By analyzing key contemporary environmental debates, students develop skills necessary for investigating any sophisticated social issue. Topics we cover: the environmental movement (is it effective?); the sustainable development debate (the tension between environmental protection and the plight of developing nations); capitalism and technology (friends or foes of the environment?); global warming (where science, economics, and politics collide). We employ a range of materials, including participant accounts, media coverage, movies, and sociological analyses. This course can build on but does not require prior coursework in environmental studies or environmental sociology.


This course offers an introduction to the Sociology of Science Studies in the actor-network tradition. Actor-Network Theory (ANT) is becoming quite influential in many areas, from sociology to techno-science studies, to feminist studies, to economics, to geography/environmental sociology. The course focuses on the contributions of Bruno Latour to ANT, but will include other contributions. Initial readings will follow the trajectory of some of Latour’s foundational works. Subsequent readings will include debates in and around ANT as applied to environmental problems from within ANT, and from “ANTish” critical environmental sociology/geography. The final set of readings visits Latour’s book, Reassembling the Social.


An intensive examination of foundational texts representing pluralist, elite, and class theories of the state in industrialized capitalist democracies. The course includes lecture and seminar-style discussion of the historical dimensions of political sociology as well as its application to current areas of inquiry. After revealing its foundations, the course will explore how political sociology is used in studies on governmentality, globalization and state crises, and environmental history. Students will be expected to participate in course discussions, provide weekly write-ups, and write a final paper.


The Pennsylvania State University:

Human Use of the Environment examines the human use of resources and ecosystems, the multiple causes and consequences of environmental degradation, and adaptive institutional and policy arrangements as prerequisites for resilient and sustainable management and development in different parts of the world. The major objective of this course is to help geographers, earth scientists, and other professionals to develop an awareness and appreciation of the perspectives that human geography brings to studies of human use of the environment and of the ways in which resource-management decisions are made in human societies.

Download Syllabus example: Geography 430 Syllabus.Gareau

The University of California, Santa Cruz:

An intensive examination of major substantive mono­graphs representing pluralist, elite, and class theories of the state in industrialized capitalist democracies.The course will include lecture and seminar-style discussion of historical texts in political sociology, and the application of this vein of sociology in current environmental sociology and geography.Students will be expected to participate in course discussions, provide daily write-ups, and take a mid-term and final exam.

Download Syllabus example: SOCY 113.Syllabus.Gareau

This upper-division course accomplishes several goals: 1) It reviews the state of the natural environment as it exists today, both in the U.S. and globally, from a critical theoretical perspective; 2) It reviews theories that are critical of capitalism as a social formation, explains how it functions, and describes its environmental implications. The second goal involves reviewing cases studies, both local and global; 3) It discusses the link between these theories and contemporary environmental governance, which has entered a “neoliberal” moment. Finally, the course discusses how critical sociologists are beginning to think about society-nature relationships in a nuanced way: “socionature”. Students’ final grades are based upon four criteria: 1) daily write-ups on the reading assignments; 2) a midterm exam; 3) an in-class presentation on the reading assignments, and; 4) a final exam. Society & Nature is a seminar-format class that combines lecture with group discussion. Therefore, students’ final grades depended, in part, on the quality of their participation in class discussion. Adequate participation required regular attendance. Late written assignments were accepted, but penalized because student participation was an intricate part of the class. The class presentations were important for helping generate discussion and pose questions on the reading material.

Download Syllabus example: SOC125.Gareau.Syllabus.2007

This course aims to introduce students to macro-sociology, an historical and theoretical analysis of large-scale social change. We will discuss the origins of the modern world, the shift to Western global domination, and the current epoch of globalization using various methods of analysis. We will use an interdisciplinary approach that requires students to read broadly —social history, social theory, political economy, anthropology, and environmental history—in order to grasp the consequences of large-scale social changes that affect our lives and our life chances. From the rise of Chinese imperialism to the making of multilateral institutions like the World Trade Organization, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, this course stresses that the economy, the structure of both ancient and modern institutions, the relationship between society and nature, and the relationship between nation-states are all outcomes of social change. Importantly, World Society is designed to be an introductory course, preparing students for upper division courses in the areas of political economy, political sociology, social inequality, socio-economic development, global/international studies, Latin American and Latino Studies, and environmental sociology/studies. This course will prepare students to make critical assessments of globalization. We will discuss the origins of the modern world, the shift to Western global domination, and investigate the possibilities of making industrialization ecologically sustainable.

Download Syllabus example: WorldSocietySyllabus.Gareau

This freshman core course reflects the intellectual theme of the college. At College Nine our focus is on international and global perspectives such as economic globalization, human rights, regional conflicts, the environment, and cultural identity. Some of the topics addressed in the course may include:

• What is globalization and how is affecting us?
• World hunger and the food supply
• Global ethnic conflicts
• Genocide
• Are there universal human rights?
• What can people do to help?

Emphasis on Developing Your Writing, Reading, and Oral Presentation Skills

In addition to introducing students to global issues, the class is also designed as a writing workshop. Students write and revise several papers during the quarter.

Download Syllabus example: InternationalIssues.Syllabus.Gareau

The objective of the group tutorial is to involve advanced undergraduate students in a research project that will help prepare them for advanced research at the graduate level or the job market. This particular group tutorial will involve investigating interventions made by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at Montreal Protocol meetings in order to discern the effect that NGOs have on protocol deliberations. The overall purpose is to explore the roles that global civil society groups play in an instance of environmental governance. The students and tutorial advisor will meet weekly to discuss progress made on their investigations, providing weekly write-ups and, at the end of the quarter, a final report.

Download Syllabus example: Syllabus SOCY 194

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