What if, instead of scholarship that upholds “an economy which fails to respect ecological and ethical limits—limits to inequality, to injustice, to greed and to economic concentration” (Shiva 2013, 3), we studied our economic system as embedded within the social system and acknowledged that that social system is in turn embedded in the environment? This is the proposition that ecological economics – not to be confused with environmental economics! – makes. In this class, we will focus on theoretical approaches, key concepts, discourses, and more-than-academic forms of knowledge that underpin ecological economics. These considerations form the basis for collaborative applications of ecological economics thinking to some of the most pressing issues of our time, allowing us to explore extractivism and unequal trade, climate coloniality, environmental justice and anti-capitalist movements, transitions and transformations. We will examine what insights we can gain by applying an ecological economics perspective to currently prominent policy initiatives such as circular and bio-economy strategies, resource efficiency targets, and renewable energy transitions We make use of perspectives from diverse fields, often at the intersection of academia and activism, including degrowth research, eco-feminism, political ecology and economy, postcolonial studies, and social ecology. Students will be exposed to cutting-edge research and will have the opportunity to contribute their own ecological economics research interests to the class.
At the end of the course, students will be able to
- identify and describe key terms and concepts of ecological economics,
- discuss the diversity of ecological economics research,
- critically reflect and discuss the challenges of engaged research, especially at they pertain to ecological economics.
- Active participation in class: 10%
- Reading assignments and short written summaries: 40%
- Final assignment: 50%