Course Title: Environmental Ideas and Action

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Environmental Ideas and Action

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies


Sem 1 2010,
Sem 1 2016,
Sem 1 2017,
Sem 1 2018,
Sem 1 2019,
Sem 1 2020,
Sem 1 2021,
Sem 1 2022,
Sem 1 2023

Course Coordinator: Dr. Ben Cooke

Course Coordinator Phone: +(61 3) 9925 9943

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Building 8, Level 11, Room 35-2

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

In this course you will examine competing, long-standing ideas about the environment in order to better understand our attitudes and actions today. You will be introduced to the Australian indigenous idea of Country, dominant Western ideas about nature such as ‘the environment’ and natural resources, and how different concepts underlie the way environmental problems and solutions are framed. 

This will help you develop an appreciation of the social as well as physical complexity of global environmental challenges. You will develop a deeper understanding of the key role of history, culture and power in shaping our past and present interactions with ‘the environment’ and how and why certain stories or ‘discourses’ about the environment are privileged over others. Overall, you will learn to perceive contemporary environmental challenges as part of an ancient and ongoing societal struggle about how best to think about the environment and our relationship with it.  

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

Program Learning Outcomes 

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Critically analyse, synthesise and reflect on different ideas about the environment and how they shape contemporary representations and debates
  • Communicate effectively using appropriate formats, media and styles.

Course Learning Outcomes 

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Identify and compare the key environmental concepts  
  2. Analyse and describe the assumptions about nature embedded in various written or visual environmental representations 
  3. Explain how historical and philosophical factors about questions such as ‘what is natural’ influence contemporary environmental debates 
  4. Compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses of various schools of thought for pro-environment policy and action. 

Overview of Learning Activities

Learning activities will include lectures and tutorials/workshops. The lectures will provide a sequenced presentation of topics while in the tutorials/workshops you will be able to engage with the ideas in a range of ways. In order to develop your knowledge and skills, you will be expected to participate in interactive discussions and activities and to critically engage with the weekly reading materials. The workshops offer a supportive learning environment where you will have the opportunity to share your knowledge and experiences, and to learn from the knowledge and experience of your peers. This learning will include small-group discussions and collaborative work in a range of activities. 

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems and RMIT library resources. 

These resources may include book chapters, journal articles, media articles, lecture notes, bibliographies for supplementary reading, video, and links to external websites. You will have the opportunity to contribute to class resources by sharing your own research findings and sources with your peers. 

Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed on how well you meet the course’s learning outcomes and on your development against the program learning outcomes.

Assessment Tasks

  1. Analysing Key Environmental Ideas (20%) (Linked to CLO 1 and 2)
    2. Environmental Case Study Issues Analysis (30%) (Linked to CLO 1 and 3)
    3. Critical Research on Environmental Thinking and Action (50%) (Linked to CLO 2, 3, and 4)

Feedback will be given on all assessment tasks.

If you have a long term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or Equitable Learning Services if you would like to find out more.

Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies, procedures and instructions.