ENVIR 430/JSIS 484B: Environmental Issues in East Asia


Yen-Chu Weng (

Course Description

This course surveys contemporary environmental issues in East Asia, focusing on China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Whereas countries in the East Asian region have shared history and similar trajectories in economic development, how different environmental issues emerge and are dealt with in each country is worth of examination and comparison. This course will first introduce general environmental issues in the region, their causes and impacts. Next, by focusing on the topics of pollution, waste, energy, environmental movements, and environmental policy, we will delve into specific case studies to examine how each country responds to the various environmental challenges differently and with what consequences.

This is a discussion-based course. We will engage with scholarly work from Geography, Sociology, Anthropology, Political Science, International Studies, and Environmental Studies. We as a class will be responsible for the learning that occurs. That means each student is responsible for doing all the readings and coming to class prepared for critical discussion. Everyone is expected to share their opinions, perspectives, and experiences.

This course culminates with a group project in which students will work in small groups to analyze and present a specific environmental case in East Asia by synthesizing diverse sources of information and stakeholder perspectives.

Overall, this course seeks both to identify overarching themes across environmental issues in East Asia as well as to recognize that each country in the region as having its unique characteristics in terms of how environmental issues emerge and are responded to.

Course Learning Objectives

· Recognize and understand the causes and effects of contemporary environmental issues in East Asia

· Identify and explain the similarities and differences in how environmental issues emerge and are responded to by countries across the East Asian region

· Examine the cultural, social, political, and economic implications of environmental challenges

· Stay current with news stories about environmental issues in East Asia

· Practice critical thinking and effective communication skills through class activities and assignments

· Practice interdisciplinary synthesis by analyzing environmental issues from multiple perspectives

· Gain experience in teamwork through a group project and presentation


Hybrid Instruction: W 1:30-3:20pm, and 2hr online work weekly

5 Credits