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PEACEST 4L03 Peace, Environment And Health

Academic Year: Winter 2016

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Nancy Doubleday

Email: doublen@mcmaster.ca

Office: Togo Salmon Hall 723

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23087


Office Hours: Friday 11-12 in TSH 312 and 1:30-2:30 in UH304

Course Objectives:

Calendar description: Selected environmental issues influencing peace and health. Topics may include social, ecological and economic perspectives on global change, biodiversity and water issues locally and globally.

The course objectives will include development of a renewed and enriched understanding of the “land ethic” that is capable of connecting peace, environment and health, for policy, decision-making and action. Aldo Leopold wrote about a “land ethic”, saying, in part, “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac. Ballantyne Books, New York, 1966 (1970), p.262.

We will explore the extension of the land ethic to social-cultural-ecological systems, using resilience as a frame of reference, to examine ecosystem and human institutional processes that influence peace and health. The topics we will address will include but will not be limited to water, climate, biodiversity, economic systems, justice and structural violence, and natural resource management. We will also address the pollution of air, water, soil and oceans, including the best understanding of current and future scenarios of global change.

The consideration of the future of the earth as a living system and a shared commons requires fearless consideration of issues and their origins, as well as innovative designs and strategies for sustainability and justice as precursors to peace and health. It also requires practical skills, including communication, research and collaboration.

By the end of the course, we have an understanding of contemporary thinking about the foundations of the issues that confront struggles for advancing peace, environmental sustainability and health. As well we will have a grasp of the best responses that we have been able to make collectively to date. By challenging ourselves to think beyond conventional responses, we open the way for new conceptual approaches and increase our adaptive capacity in terms of resilience.

We will use action learning–action research models and will function collectively as a community of practice. The course is a lecture-workshop, and the project(s) chosen will be identified by the class as a whole from the suite of possible topics available to us. Enhanced capacity for critical and strategic thinking is a key outcome. Students will keep a design journal which will document and reflect on challenges attempted and lessons learned, as we search for means of informing policy, influencing decision-making and taking action on issues of vital importance to our planet and its future. Each student will develop his/her own skills and prepare a portfolio to showcase their contributions.  

Opportunities for acquiring practical skills will include: project design, proposal writing and topic development.

Depending on the topic chosen by the group (or subgroups), the active development and nurture of community partnerships may also be included.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Readings will be provided online, where possible, at no cost.

We will refer selectively to a range of materials available online.

Library resources will be made available on reserve as needed.

All students are understood to have a HSR bus pass. We may conduct one or more site visits using public transport, and in this case students who have not arranged a bus pass should be prepared to pay for return bus fares for themselves.

Method of Assessment:

Total = 100% Evaluation will be based on 4 key activities (in bold below):

15%  Personal statement of values and ethical relationships in terms of “Peace, Environment and Health” IN CLASS ASSIGNMENT: January 15

45% Course Project(s) Workshop Linking Peace, Environment and Health on January 22, 29, and February 5. This Course Project Workshop evaluation includes: 1) Active Participation in Workshop Discussions: 10%   2) Individual Draft Proposal Submission due January 25:   Each student will provide a draft proposal of 1-4 pages (maximum 4 pages) in length, double spaced 12 pt Times Roman font, plus references, on Avenue and in hard copy. Each person will present a brief outline in class on January 29:  10%    3) Class Project(s) Proposal Submission: due February 12, with hard copy in class, and online submission in Avenue: 25%  

20% Design Presentation Charrette on April 1

20% Individual Class Project Portfolio due on April 8

Detailed explanations of all assignments and expectations will be provided in class.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

This is a self-reporting tool for undergraduate students to report absences DUE TO MINOR MEDICAL SITUATIONS that last up to 5 days and provides the ability to request accommodation for any missed academic work. Please note, this tool cannot be used during any final examination period. You may submit a maximum of 1 Academic Work Missed request per term. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up with your Instructor immediately (NORMALLY WITHIN TWO WORKING DAYS) regarding the nature of the accommodation. If you are absent for reasons other than medical reasons, for more than 5 days, or exceed 1 request per term, you MUST visit your Associate Dean's Office/Faculty Office). You may be required to provide supporting documentation. This form should be filled out immediately when you are about to return to class after your absence. 

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Topics, Resources and Readings:

Overview: The first three weeks will follow a lecture/discussion/workshop pattern. We will learn about linkages among peace, environment and health, by considering examples from the hybrid fields of biodiversity, resilience, culture and adaptation, and ecohealth (See Resources, below).

Week 1, January 8: Introduction to course: understanding resilience and complex systems in order to relate biodiversity, resilience, culture, and ecohealth. What role do institutions and human-created social structures play? What practices of community and decision-making might foster innovation and change? What can we learn from moving across complex issues concerning water, climate, refugees and migrants, local conservation, air quality and individual and community health, from local to global and back again? What is “the problem of scale” really about?

Resources: See http://www.resalliance.org/key-concepts and read “key concepts”.

Week 2, January 15: Introduction to processes of analysis. The relation of values and conflict. The need for adaptation. Personal statements.

See: http://www.aldoleopold.org/AldoLeopold/landethic.shtml

Week 3, January 22: Theory and Praxis – Paradigms for Change

Read Introduction and Chapter 1 in Nurtured by Knowledge in Smith et al., 1997 (this is in Reading #1)

Week 3, 4, and 5 will be the beginning of a 3-week workshop during class to launch the potential topics for the course project(s) in Week 6.

Week 7 is Reading Week.

Week 8, 9, and 10 are course project meetings in workshop and discussion format.

Week 11 (March 18) is independent work time for course project preparation.

Week 12 is Good Friday (no classes are held).

Week 13 and 14 are the final sessions. Class project(s) will be presented and critiqued here. Final individual class project portfolios are due in class on April 8, 2016.


1) Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac. Ballantyne Books, New York, 1966 (1970), p.262.

2) Nurtured by Knowledge: Learning to Do Participatory Action-Research, Susan E. Smith, Dennis G. Willms, with Nancy A. Johnson (Eds.), the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, 1997. This book is available online at:  http://hdl.handle.net/10625/15758 where you can download a PDF at no cost (no login required).

3) TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION OF CANADA: http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/index.php?p=10

Calls to Action


This work, as well as the TRC Final Report (available on December 15, 2015) will be used selectively as references. This report will be available online.


4) DECLARATION ON THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES (UNDRIP) is an international instrument adopted by the United Nations on September 13, 2007. The full text is available as a PDF: www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/DRIPS_en.pdf



Human Rights Council, Thirtieth session, Agenda item 3: Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development. Full report available as a PDF:



6) United Nations Human Rights Commission. UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS. 1948.



7) The following instruments of the United Nations (and others) may also be of interest, depending on class decisions about project topics:

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966
The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, 1965
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 1979
The Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989
The ILO Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize Convention, 1948
The ILO Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949
The Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, 1999
The Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, 1981
The Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, 1992




Word Document available at:




Full Text of the Convention: available as a PDF at



10) SUSTAINING LIFE ON EARTH: How the Convention on Biological Diversity promotes nature and human well-being.  Available as a PDF at




Joseph E. Stiglitz, Amartya Sen, Jean-Paul Fitoussi,


12) CULTURE OF PEACE HAMILTON: Building Local Peace for a Global Change. http://cultureofpeacehamilton.com/ 

Other Course Information:

This course relies on individual commitment to collaborative work, respect for academic integrity, and making the best contributions possible. To this end, the scoring of the Class Project will include a “within group” score component of each member’s contribution by the class members. Where a group appraises a contribution of a group member as significantly below the contribution made by other members, and it is determined that there is an attempt to take advantage of the group (i.e. as a “free rider”, or by chronic lateness in meeting deadlines), a penalty of up to 5% of the grade attained by that individual for the course as a whole may be levied by the instructor in consultation with the class.