Graduate Student Seminar Series: The Politics of Ecological Belonging: A Multidimensional Approach
Student presenter: Gregory Koutnik, Political Science
Why do we protect the Grand Canyon? More generally, why do and should we set some places aside to be protected from economic development? Greg’s research as a political scientist deals with normative questions like these in environmental political theory. His dissertation treats environmental politics and policy as matters of building and protecting homes, broadly conceived—for what is the environment but the places in which humans and nonhumans live? According to his theory, environmental policy is a matter of addressing a phenomenon he calls “ecological belonging” in which human beings come to be at home in their environs and value its protection as a policy objective. He analyzes three modes of ecological belonging—economic, scientific, and affective—each of which has its own policy objectives and normative purposes to which environmental policy analysts and political theorists alike should attend. His findings caution policy analysts against ignoring the multiple ways in which human beings value the environment—that is to say, in which we come to see our environs as our own.