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Department of Development Studies

Political Ecology of Development

Course Code:
15PDSC009
Unit value:
1.0

This course is the core course of the newly established MSc Environment, Politics and Development.  It presents a critical perspective on the relationship between environment and development, with a ’political ecology of development’ lens. The course focuses on the dynamics of socio-environmental change, giving attention to its material/economic, political/organisational as well as cultural/ideological dimensions.  In its first half, the course discusses empirical evidence and normative standpoints in relation to environmentalism, the emergence of ‘political ecology’ as a field, the critical perspectives that it was and is inspired by, and the institutional dynamics of socio-environmental change (under the headings governance & policy, markets, conflicts & security, movements). The second part of the course discusses specific ‘political ecologies of....’ and gives an overview of current issues in the field of environment, politics and development.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of the course, a student should be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge of basic concepts and principles of the political ecology of development and the social history of its emergence;
  • demonstrate knowledge of theoretical approaches to the institutional dynamics of socio-environmental change;
  • demonstrate knowledge of core debates on selected thematic areas within the political ecology of development;
  • demonstrate capacity to apply these approaches and frameworks in analysis of environmental controversies.

Workload

Teaching takes place through a weekly 3 hour seminar.

Scope and syllabus

PART 1: INTRODUCTION

  • Why worry about the environment? Poverty and planetary boundaries
  • Global History of environmental issues
  • Political Ecology - origins, approaches, critiques

PART II: MAINSTREAM AND CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES

  • Nature and capitalism: mainstream and heterodox political economy
  • Feminist approaches to nature, environment and development
  • Struggles over meaning: anthropological approaches to the environment

PART III: INSTITUTIONAL DYNAMICS OF SOCIO-ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE

  • Environmental governance and policy
  • Markets in environmental goods and services
  • Environmental conflict and security
  • Environmental movements

PART IV: THE POLITICAL ECOLOGY OF...

  • The global political economy of oil
  • Climate change
  • Urbanisation and environment
  • Urban water
  • Tourism, Environment and Development
  • Mining and indigenous people
  • Biofuels
  • Biodiversity, protected areas and social justice
  • Forests

PART V: A CURRENT ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROVERSY (PANEL DISCUSSION)

  • Current controversy

Method of assessment

50% three-hour examination, 50% coursework. Each student will be expected to submit two essays of no more than 3000 words (each worth 25%). Resubmission of coursework regulations apply.