Postgraduate Course: Energy in the Global South (PGSP11422)
|School||School of Social and Political Science
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||Access to modern energy is seen as fundamental to reducing poverty, and improving education, livelihoods and health across the global South. Yet in the context of climate change and the UN's sustainable development goals the question of what kind of energy is appropriate for whom has become more important than ever. Meanwhile, the quest for new reserves of fossil fuels and attempts to increase the use of alternative energy is transforming relationships between the global south and the global north.
This course approaches the study of energy, fuel and electricity in Africa, Latin America, South Asia and the Pacific as the study of social, cultural and political change. We will explore both the role of energy in post-colonial projects of nationalist modernisation and the place of energy in contemporary projects of socio-economic development. We will explore the social and cultural politics of oil, coal, hydro electricity, wind and solar. And we will shift focus between big infrastructure projects, like dams and coal plants, designed to generate electricity for people living on the grid to small, decentralised infrastructures projects designed for those living off the grid.
This course will introduce students to perspectives on energy from anthropology, politics, sociology and geography, and to studies of low carbon energy transitions in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The course is built around weekly case studies drawn from diverse global contexts and focused on specific examples. The course will utilise a variety of research-led teaching and learning techniques, applying critical pedagogical approaches and building key skills to apply innovative research methods.
The course will be of particular interest to students taking programmes in international development, social anthropology, politics and international relations, sociology, human geography as well as area studies, economics and law.
Week 1: Electricity and Development
This week offers an introduction to the course. How has the relationship between energy and development come to be defined? How is the politics of energy in the global south being transformed against the background of climate change? And what kinds of perspectives do the social and political sciences offer a critical engagement?
Week 2: Sustainable Development Goals and Energy Governance January 20th
What do the sustainable development goals on energy mean and how might critical scholars approach them?
Week 3: Energy, Justice and Inequality
This week we examine the relationship between energy, justice and inequality, exploring the distinction between procedural and distributive justice in the context of energy transitions in the global south.
Week 4: Power, Modernity and the Grid February 3rd
The extension of centrally managed electricity grids has become synonymous with development, modernity and markets. What does the grid mean and how has the expansion of the grid in the global south been shaped by neoliberal policies and programmes?
Week 5: Electric Life
How does access to electricity transform people's lives? And what kind of change is assumed by policies and programmes aimed at increasing access to energy in the global south? How does everyday life change when electricity becomes available to a group of people for the first time? Why do some groups tend to embrace this icon of development while other groups actively fight against it?
Week 6: Oil and Geopolitics in the Global South
This week we remind ourselves that the politics of energy in the global south over the 20th century has been shaped by the extractive geopolitics of oil. What is the legacy of oil in sub Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Middle East?
Week 7: Hydroelectric Infrastructures
This week examines the social and material politics of low carbon energy transitions through a focus on hydro-electricity in South East Asia and Latin America.
Week 8: The Wind Revolution
This week we examine the social and material politics of wind energy through a focus on
Week 9: Capitalising on the Sun
This week examines the social and material politics of low carbon energy transitions through
a focus on solar power.
Week 10: Green Capitalism and Energy Futures
This week closes the course with a focus on the politics of biofuels in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. To what extent does the drive for low carbon solutions in the global north reshaping energy economies in the global south?
Student Learning Experience:
Intended Learning Outcomes :
On completion of this course, the student will have:
Critical awareness and extensive knowledge of key debates about the role of energy in development.
In-depth understanding of the power relationships involved in the extraction of fossil fuel reserves and transitions to low carbon or alternative energy futures.
Ability to critically analyse and evaluate the energy infrastructure projects and low development projects initiated by governments, international finance organisations, development agencies, social entrepreneurs, NGO and rural communities.
Ability to identify and effectively navigate methodological and ethical complexities of researching energy in the Global South.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2016/17, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 10,
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Assessment will be based on:
(i) Photo Essay: 'Energy and Development in 50 Things', a 500 word photo essay about a specific energy technology or infrastructure, to be displayed in a class organised pop up exhibition (20%)
Formal guidance will be given for how to prepare strong contributions which should have (not included in the word count) a list of at least 5 academic references in the bibliography.
(ii) Real World Case Study: 'Energising Development? How does fuel and electricity underpin social and economic change in the Global South?'. A 3,500 word final essay (70%)
(iii) Seminar attendance and participation (10%).
Seminar participation is marked on the basis of:
Attendance: present/absent without leave.
Submission of non assessed Real World Case study proposal, 250 words.
1 x group presentation.
5 x 250 word synopses of a key reading.
||Feedback for coursework will be returned online via ELMA.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Critical awareness and extensive knowledge of key debates about the role of energy in development
- In-depth understanding of the power relationships involved in the extraction of fossil fuel reserves and transitions to low carbon or alternative energy futures.
- Ability to critically analyse and evaluate the energy infrastructure projects and low development projects initiated by governments, international finance organisations, development agencies, social entrepreneurs, NGO and rural communities.
- Ability to identify and effectively navigate methodological and ethical complexities of researching energy in the Global South
|Miller, Damian. Selling solar: the diffusion of renewable energy in emerging markets. Routledge, 2012.|
Mitchell, Timothy. 2011. Carbon democracy: Political power in the age of oil. Verso Books
Smits, Mattijs 2015 Southeast Asian Energy Transitions: Between Modernity and Sustainability. Ashgate
Strauss, Sarah, Stephanie Rupp, and Thomas Love, eds. 2013 Cultures of energy: power, practices, technologies. Left Coast Press.
Winther, Tanja. 2013. The impact of electricity: Development, desires and dilemmas. Berghahn Book
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||By the end of the programme, students will be equipped with new skills in:
Synthesising and analysing empirical and theoretical material from a variety of sources.
Examining, using and assessing evidence in support of explanatory and normative claims.
Developing and evaluating arguments that take different kinds of social complexity into account.
Exercising informed independent thought and critical judgement.
|Course organiser||Dr Jamie Cross
|Course secretary||Miss Kate Ferguson
Tel: (0131 6)51 5122
© Copyright 2016 The University of Edinburgh - 3 February 2017 5:01 am