University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Geography

Undergraduate Course: Environmental Justice (GEGR10123)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryEnvironmental justice has risen in prominence around the world in the language of environmental activism, politics and policy-making. Environmental justice scholarship asks questions about why for some, the environment is part of the good life a source of health, well-being and prosperity, and why for others, it is a source of risk and harm.
Course description This course starts by examining the history of the environmental justice movement, and key concepts and debates in environmental justice scholarship. The module then progresses to apply these concepts to case studies with diverse themes and geographies, in which a variety of claims are made regarding environmental justice. This course will develop students critical thinking about the environment as a site of political contestation.

The introductory (5 week) section of the course will examine the growth of the environmental justice (EJ) movement from its origins in the United States, and the broadening out of this movement to different scales and geographies. It will introduce key concepts from the work of Rawls (1972), Sen (2009), Nussbaum (2000), and highlight in particular Schlosberg's (2004; 2007) trivalent conception of EJ, incorporating distribution, participation and recognition. These dimensions and the interplay between them will form a continual theme throughout the course.

This introductory part will also consider different disciplinary perspectives on EJ (for instance from Geography and Ecological Economics), and intersections between EJ and environmental ethics. The course then develops to set up a framework of local and global EJ issues, discussing key concepts for these different scales of analysis. With these conceptual foundations, the course then moves forward to consider a number of cases in which EJ claims are made, from the local scale to the global.

Students are able to apply the conceptual lenses developed in the introductory section to these cases. Where the cases draw on primary research, students will be encouraged to think about appropriate research methodologies for investigating EJ.

This course will develop students' critical thinking about the environment as a site of political contestation. Furthermore, it will challenge students to think about the complicity of all of us in matters of environmental justice.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  44
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 2, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 172 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Written Exam: 50%, Course Work: 50 %, Practical Exam: 0%.
Degree Assessment: One 2,000 word essay (40%); Reflective statement on peer critique of essay plan (10%), plus one two-hour examination (2 questions) (50%)

Assessment deadlines:
Case Analysis: Week 9
Critical Reflection of a weekly reading/topic: Week 11
Feedback Formative Assessment:
1. Environmental justice case analysis plan- 700 words
2. Critique of a peer's environmental justice case analysis plan. 500 words. (This is qualitatively marked by a student peer. Peer comments provided to original author, to be used to develop the summative case analysis).
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. give an account of the history of the environmental justice movement and the development of environmental justice scholarship
  2. discuss the importance of distributional, procedural and recognition justice, and recognise inter-linkages between dimensions in case studies
  3. discuss environmental justice case studies at different scales with reference to appropriate concepts
  4. critically examine claims made about environmental justice in peer reviewed and grey literatures
  5. give appropriate and constructive feedback to a peer and use feedback to develop their own work
Reading List
Two overarching texts suitable for undergraduate studies are:
Walker, G (2012). Environmental Justice: Concepts, Evidence and Politics. London, Routledge.
Schlosberg, D (2007). Defining Environmental Justice- Theories, Movements and Nature. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Other indicative reading is indicated below:

Armstrong, A (2012). Ethics and justice for the environment. London, Routledge.

Brown, K (2015). Global environmental change II: Planetary boundaries- A safe operating space for human geographers? Progress in Human Geography.

Chan, K.MA, R.M. Pringle, J.A.I Ranganathan, C.L.Boggs, Y.L. Chan, P.R. Ehrlich, P.K. Haff, N.E. Heller, K. Al-Khafaji and D.P.
Macmynowski (2007). When Agendas Collide: Human Welfare and Biological Conservation Conservation Biology 21 (1): 59-68

Davidson, M.D. (2012). Distributive justice in the international regulation of global eosystem services. Global Environmental Change 22 (4): 852-861

Fisher, J.A, C.J. Cavanagh, T. Sikor and D. Mwayafu (submitted). Linking notions of justice and project outcomes in carbon offset forestry projects: insights from a comparative study in Uganda. Global Environmental Change.

Fraser, N, and A. Honnet. 2003. Redistribution or recognition? : A Political-philosophical Exchange. Verso.

Fraser, N. 2009. Scales of Justice: Reimagining Political Space in a Globalizing World: Columbia University Press.

Giibs, L. (1983). 'Introduction'. In Hofrichter, R (ed), Toxic Struggles: the theory and practice of environmental justice, Philadelphia, New Society Publishers, pp. ix-xi.

Martinez-Alier, J (2003). Problems of Ecological Degradation: Environmental Justice or Ecological Modernization? Capitalism Nature Socialism 14 (1): 133-138

Nussbauk, M (2011). Creating capabilities: the human development approach. Cambridge, Massachusetts, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Rawls, J. (1972). A theory of justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Raworth, K (2012). A safe and just space for humanity: can we live within the doughnut? Oxfam Discussion Paper. Oxford, Oxfam.

Rockstrom, J., W. Steffen, K. Noone, A. Persson, F.S. Chapin, E.F Lambin, T.M. Lenton, M. Scheffer, C. Folke, H.J. Schellnhuber, B.Nykvist, C. A. de Wit, T. Hughes, S van der Leeuw, H. Rodhe, S. Sorlin, P.K Snyder, R. Costanza, U. Svedin, M. Falkenmark, L. Karlberg, R.W. Corell, V.J. Fabry, J. Hansen, B. Walker, D. Liverman, K. Richardson, P. Crutzen and J.A Foley (2009). A safe operating space for humanity. Nature 461 (7263): 472-475

Walker, G and H. Bulkeley (2006): Geographies of environmental justice. Geoforum 37 (5): 655-659

Warlenius, R, G. Pierce and V. Ramasar (2015). Reversing the arrow of arrears: The concept of 'ecological debt' and its value for environmental justice. Global Environmental Change 30: 21-30

Sen, A (2009). The Idea of Justice. London: Allen Lane.

Sikor, T, Ed (2013). The justices and injustices of ecosystem services. London: Earthscan.

Sikor, T, A. Matrin, J. Fisher and J. He (2014). Toward an Empirical Analysis of Justice in Ecosystem Governance. Conservation Letters 7 (6): 524-532

Schlosberg, D (2004). Reconceiving Environmental Justice: Global Movements and Political Theories. Environmental Politics 13 (3): 517-540

Srinivasan, T. U, S. Carey, P, E. Hallstein, P. Higgins, A.T, A. Kerr, C, L. Koteen, E, A. Smith, B, R. Watson, J. Harte and R. Norgaard, B (2008) "The debt of nations and the distribution of ecological impacts from human activities". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 105 (5): 1768-1773
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsEnvironmental justice,equity,ethics,distribution,participation,activism,trade,climate justic
Course organiserDr Miriam Gay-Antaki
Tel: (01316)50 2294
Course secretaryMiss Carry Arnold
Tel: (0131 6)50 9847
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information