Postgraduate Course: Understanding Environment and Development (PGGE11187)
|School||School of Geosciences
||College||College of Science and Engineering
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Not available to visiting students
|Summary||This course aims to introduce students to relationships between the environment (nature, biodiversity, natural resources, ecosystem services etc.) and (international) development (well-being, social justice, inclusion etc.), and the ways in which we might understand these relations in order to intervene in them. It takes a critical perspective on mainstreamed approaches to ¿sustainable development¿ and explores ¿alternatives¿ that promote environmental and social justice. The course draws on current academic debate in considering the contested, political and ideological nature of environment and development issues. It views society and nature as inherently linked, historical contexts as highly relevant to current practices, and global capitalism and colonialism as underlying forces of change. Issues of access, justice, distributions of costs and benefits, power, and (in)equalities are foregrounded in our considerations, as are the roles and responsibilities of a range of actors (including state, international agencies and organisations, civil society, indigenous peoples and local communities, ourselves).
The course aims not to teach students how to do environment/development work, but rather how to critically think about what it is that environment/development work does, for whom, and with what consequences. It therefore focuses on the contribution of academic theory, critique and debate to on-going practices in environment and development. The course draws on scholarship in political ecology, feminist political ecology, environmental justice, nature-society geographies, and critical development studies. It promotes pluralist, decolonial and anti-racist approaches to environment and development, and promotes critical reflexivity on intersectional identities and positionalities of ourselves and others.
The course considers core concepts and theories within the field of environment and development. It explains and explores these through a range of global case-study and empirical material, drawn from both published literature and current University of Edinburgh research.
Week 1: Critically Understanding Environment & Development
Week 2: Development, History & Decoloniality
Week 3: Environment, ¿Nature¿ & Natural Resources
Week 4: Social Justice, Inclusion & The Environment
Week 5: Environmental Justice & Political Ecologies
Week 6: Communities, Participation & Collective Action
Week 7: Neoliberal Nature & Corporate Power
Week 8: Group Presentations (Assessment 1)
Week 9: Biodiversity & Conservation
Week 10: Climate Change, Disasters & Vulnerabilities
Week 11: Power, Praxis & Positionality
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2022/23, Not available to visiting students (SS1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 33,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
The course assessment will involve two tasks:
(1) Group Presentation (40% of total course marks) due week 8, Thursday 10th November
(2) Individual Essay (60% of the total course mark) due week 12 Thursday 8th December
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Learn to appreciate the interrelated and contested nature of environment and development issues;
- Learn to use key academic theory and debate to engage with environment and development issues;
- Learn to critically reflect upon current practices and approaches in environment and development;
- Learn to build and convey sophisticated arguments drawing on complex evidence through writing and the spoken word.
|Each week a series of journal articles or book chapters are recommended for reading (2 are compulsory for the seminar and must be read in advance). In addition there are the following general course readings, which between them include key authors in the field and cover the range of issues and topics covered in the course: |
- Castree, N. and Braun, B. (eds.). (2001) Social Nature: Theory, Practice and Politics. John Wiley & Sons: Oxford.
- Cleaver, F. (2010) Development through Bricolage. Rethinking Institutions for Natural Resource Management. Earthscan, Routledge.
- Cronon, W. (ed.). (1995) Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature. North & Company: New York.
- Harvey, D. (1996) Justice, Nature and the Geography of Difference. Blackwell: Cambridge, MA.
- Martinez-Alier, J. (2002) Environmentalism of the Poor. Edward Elgar: Cheltenham.
- Murray-Li, T. (2007) The Will To Improve. Governmentality, Development, and the Practices of Politics. Duke University Press.
- Ostrom, E. (1990) Governing the Commons. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.
- Peet, R. and Watts, M.J. (2004) Liberation Ecologies: Environment, Development and Social Movements. 2nd edition. Routledge: London.
- Peet, R., Robbins, P. and Watts, M.J. (2011) Global Political Ecology. Routledge: London.
- Robbins, P. (2004/2012) Political Ecology: A Critical Introduction. Blackwell: Oxford.
- Rocheleau, D., Thomas-Slayter, B. & Wangari, E. (1996/2013) Feminist Political Ecology: Global Issues and Local Experience. Routledge.
- Tuhiwai Smith, L. (2012) Decolonizing Methodologies. Research and Indigenous Peoples. Second Edition. Zed Books.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Course organiser||Dr Samantha Staddon
|Course secretary||Ms Louisa King
Tel: (0131 6)50 2543