The Political Ecology of Environmental Justice

Course Level: 
Course Open to: 
Students on-site
Remote students
Academic Year: 
US Credits: 
ECTS Credits: 
Course Code: 
ENVS 5237
Course Description: 

Promoting a more sustainable world is interwoven within power dynamics that are characterized by key questions about science and knowledge, nature and culture, environmental justice and advocacy.  This course explores these questions and investigates the political and cultural basis of environmentalisms and their manifestations based on a political ecology perspective.  

We will investigate compelling theoretical perspectives for analyzing environmental case studies to reveal key insights on the power dynamics of environmental conflicts and issues and their implications for environmental and social justice.  By identifying how the environment and environmental and social justice are defined from a scientific standpoint as well as in culturally specific ways by communities, activists, social movements, governments, and private sector actors, it becomes clearer how environments are negotiated and emerge in different ways.  In this course, students design their own "environment" in which they establish the power dynamics through a game simulation exercise based on a real-life case study.

Learning Outcomes: 

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to

  1. engage theoretical and conceptual tools for thinking critically about and navigating the complexity of environmental issues through the notions of power and discourse, science and knowledge, the relationship between nature and culture, and social and environmental justice;
  2. critically analyze environmental conflicts and decision-making and social movement strategies through a broader cultural and political lens; and
  3. establish a decisionmaking framework that engages the complexity of perspectives, politics, and power dynamics that influence environmental outcomes, and have implications for promoting a world that is more sustainable and socially just.

Participation in class discussion and activities (15%)

Case study summary and mind map (15%)

Individual theory paper to inform decisionmaking "game" project (35%)

Final interactive decisionmaking "game" project (35%)