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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Politics

Undergraduate Course: Climate Justice (PLIT10118)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will enable students to address questions around the normative implications of anthropogenic climate change, using the tools of moral and political philosophy: Why is climate change an injustice? Do we have duties of justice to future generations, or even to non-humans? Who is responsible for climate harm, given that each individual's emissions may make no perceptible difference? How should the burdens of mitigation, adaptation, and compensation be distributed across states? How just is the Paris Agreement? How should global negotiators respond to urgency and non-compliance? Should extreme measures such as geoengineering or population controls be considered? What should individuals be doing: cutting emissions, promoting local, state or global action, aiding the victims of climate change, even having fewer children?
Course description The course raises and assesses questions of justice and morality around climate change, including population justice and duties to other species. Students will develop and use the tools of moral and political philosophy, applied to a salient global challenge.
Three areas of climate justice are debated:
- How debates around climate change push the boundaries of justice and morality, covering issues such as human rights and collective responsibility, duties of future generations, potential duties to non-human animals, population growth and procreative rights.
- The normative collective challenges posed by climate change and population, against a broader framework of global justice. These include questions such as what collective climate policy should involve (mitigation, adaptation, compensation), how these burdens should be distributed, whether population or geoengineering policy could ever justifiably be part of this, and how justifiably to respond to non-compliance.
- The moral dilemma facing the individual in the face of collective failure to respond adequately to climate change: "What Should I Do?" It covers whether we have individual moral duties (even primary duties) to cut our own emissions or to promote collective (e.g. political) action.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Introduction to Politics and International Relations (PLIT08004) OR Politics in a Changing World: An Introduction for non-specialists (PLIT08012)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students who have not taken Introduction to Politics and International Relations (PLIT08004) OR Politics in a Changing World (PLIT08012), but have taken a similar course, should contact the Course Organiser to confirm if they are eligible to take this course.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. apply an empirically-informed understanding of contemporary debates on climate justice from a relevant range of normative perspectives
  2. navigate specialist in-depth knowledge of specific areas and issues in relation to climate justice
  3. critically engage with key theories, concepts, and arguments in the study of climate justice
  4. deploy effective communications skills, both written and verbal, to provide clear and concise analysis of the topic and arguments at hand
  5. engage in critical thinking, reflection and debate for academic and non-academic consumption
Reading List
Gardiner, S., Caney, S., Jamieson, D. & Shue, H. (2010). Climate Ethics: Essential Readings. Oxford University Press.
Shue, H. (2014). Climate Justice: Vulnerability and Protection. Oxford. Oxford University Press
Arnold, Denis G. (2011). The Ethics of Global Climate Change. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Cripps, E. Climate Change and the Moral Agent: Individual duties in an interdependent world. (2013) Oxford. Oxford University Press.
Conly, S. (2015). One Child: Do We Have a Right to More? New York: Oxford University Press
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Think and reason critically
- Draw on theoretical materials to develop and support a line of informed normative argument, written and oral
- Present information and arguments visually and orally
- Participate in informed, constructive debate
KeywordsClimate change
Course organiserDr Ewan Kerr
Course secretaryMr Daniel Jackson
Tel: (0131 6)50 2309
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