Homo Toxicus Discussion Questions


Homo Toxicus Discussion Questions

  1.  Comment on Homo Toxicus like a film critic: How did the film affect you -- emotionally, intellectually, and ethically?  What information, visuals, and techniques were used to produce these effects? Which of these were most persuasive or powerful? Do you think any of these were misleading? What would make it a better film?  
  2. Comment on the film Homo Toxicus like an anthropologist: How do different stakeholders portrayed in the film perceive and respond to the environmental health problems they are confronted with?  What likely shaped their perceptions?
  3. Comment on the film Homo Toxicus like an activist: Did you find the film Homo Toxicus persuasive and concerning? What injustices does the film portray and what could be done to fix them?
  4. What is the role of data and visualization technologies in Homo Toxicus? How are toxics being made visible with the help of technology? 
  5. How does David Fellow in the article "Pandemics, Policing, and Just Transition" argue police brutality and the American prison system can be framed as an environmental justice concern? According to Fellow, what can the environmental injustice movement offer for the current moment in the US, especially around conversations on defunding the police? 
  6. In Homo Toxicus, how was data gathered in the Chemical Valley of Ontario? In what ways is community-driven data effective? And what could be some limits of this form of data gathering?
  7. In his Ted Talk, biologist Tyrone Hayes quotes Albert Einstein, saying that “Those who have the privilege to know, have a duty to act.”  How does this go against what he was taught earlier about science? What is your view of the role scientists should play in our society?
  8. Do you think young people care more than older people about environmental problems?  What is your evidence (personal communication is fine)? What likely shapes young people’s views of environmental problems?
  9. Describe an environmental advocacy organization that you would give time and money to, explaining why.
  10. What did you learn in this module that helps explain why environmental health threats are worse in poor communities, especially communities of color?
  11. Comment on Greenwashers  like a film critic: Describe when in the film you recognized that The Greenwashers is a satire and when you realized the argument it was making. How did it make you feel?  Do you think this is an effective strategy for environmental education media? How is it similar to comedy news by people like Steve Colbert?
  12. Comment on the film Greenwashers like an anthropologist: The film takes you to eco-conventions where eco-company representatives speak about their projects with great conviction.  What do you think explains their thinking, talk and actions? Do you consider their work unethical? What if they aren’t aware that they are greenwashing?
  13. Comment on the film Greenwashers  like an activist: Is greenwashing unethical or unjust?  What should be done about it?
  14. Have you observed greenwashing and its impacts on people -- the way it can both sway people and produce deep cynicism?  Provide examples.
  15. Do a search for “California” on the Environmental Health News (Links to an external site.) website. Describe and comment on an article you find that is of particular interest to you.
  16. What did learn in this module that helps explain why it is so hard to reduce environmental health threats? What ideas do you have for reducing the environmental health hazards described in this module?
  17. How would you explain "historical disadvantage" to someone unfamiliar with the concept? What examples would you use to illustrate the sources and impacts of historical disadvantage?
  18. What actions do you think need to be taken in Cancer Alley to provide a safe and just environment for the people living there?


Creative Commons Licence

Contributed date

September 28, 2020 - 12:54pm

Critical Commentary

We’ve chosen readings, recorded lectures and films for this course that will teach students about different kinds of environmental health threats and how they are impacting different communities. 

Group Audience

Cite as

Anonymous, "Homo Toxicus Discussion Questions ", contributed by Kaitlyn Rabach , Tim Schütz, Kim Fortun, Prerna Srigyan and Maggie Woodruff, Disaster STS Network, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 3 October 2020, accessed 7 August 2022. https://disaster-sts-network.org/content/homo-toxicus-discussion-questions