International development

Political Ecology and Environmental Justice

Module code: 013IDSANTH
Level 6
30 credits in spring semester
Teaching method: Seminar
Assessment modes: Not yet finalised

Who controls food production? Should we all be vegan? What are the consequences of decarbonizing energy production and transportation? How does carbon offsetting work? What is extractivism? How are indigenous groups mobilising against environmental violence, pollution, infrastructure developments and resource extraction? In this module, we engage with these and other environmental justice concerns through the lens of political ecology. Political ecology is a broad set of theoretical and methodological approaches (incorporating feminist political ecologies, urban political ecologies and decolonial political ecologies) that helps us to understand the relationship between environmental change and social (in)justice. In the first section of the course we will explore the origins of political ecology in currents of human geography, anthropology and ecological Marxism, examine the emergence of critical challenges from feminist and decolonial political ecologists, and explore the relationship between political ecology and other disciplines such as science & technology studies. The second section of the course will provide you with the methodological and practical training required for your assignments. The third section of the course will consist of a series of case studies drawing on current issues of political ecological concern (for example, meat consumption, Green New Deals, lithium mining). Your assessments for this course will encourage you to approach political ecology as a ‘public facing’ discipline that engages with social movements: in Week 9 you will submit a short group-produced podcast highlighting an environmental justice concern, drawing on your emerging understanding of political ecology analysis. These could be global or local in scope (for example, fracking, environmental racism and air pollution, carbon offsetting, pipeline developments on indigenous territories). The final assessment will be a long-form blog submission designed to enhance public understanding of a contemporary environmental justice concern.