Climate Justice

Spring 2019
Sophomore - Senior
Class Size: 50
16 Credits per quarter
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Climate justice has become the dominant discourse among civil society groups and grassroots movements that have mobilized around and beyond U.N. climate talks over the last two decades. But what exactly does it mean, and what are its implications for ongoing climate negotiations, policy-making, evolving power relations, and our lifestyle choices as citizens in a diverse and unequal world? Is climate equity a necessary condition for addressing the climate crisis? Is it sufficient? How are communities around the world envisioning equitable transitions to a low-carbon society? What do we mean by an equitable transition? If the burdens and benefits associated with burning fossil fuels are to be equitably distributed, what other transformational shifts in the underlying structures of oppression are necessary to move towards a more just world? Can we conceptualize a just transition to a low-carbon society without addressing the history of colonialism, capitalism and patriarchy? Would such transformations be independent of one another, or are they inherently connected? And how can we conceptualize a just transition in the historical context of uneven capitalist growth and development across the countries of the Global South and the Global North? Are the reformist goals for distributional justice and the radical goals for transformational change mutually exclusive or can they be pursued in tandem?

These are some of the overarching questions we would be asking in this program, while utilizing insights from the theoretical traditions of political economy, environmental justice, feminist theory, and postcolonial theory. Case studies of communities at the forefront of thinking about mitigation and transformation strategies will help us to parse out the complexities involved in a just and equitable transition. This program will introduce students to academic, policy, and activist communities that engage with climate justice. We will take a multidisciplinary, social science approach drawing from various areas of scholarship, including feminist political economy, environmental justice, global environmental politics, critical development studies, and political ecology, to unpack the complex and multifaceted discourse of climate justice. The environmental justice movement and political economy will provide the theoretical and conceptual basis of our explorations as we examine the synergies and contradictions undergirding the different approaches to climate justice. Students will gain a better understanding of inequities in the context of climate change, why they exist, and ways to address them.

Students will engage with the material through seminars, lectures, guest speakers, films, workshops, field trips, and written assignments.


Spring 2019 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16): 30078

Academic details

Preparatory for studies and careers in

international development, non-profit organizations, teaching, state government, and environmental law.

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

$200 for an overnight field trip.


Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

Purce Hall 7 - Classroom


Date Revision
2018-04-24 This program is offered to sophomores through seniors (formerly juniors through seniors).
2018-04-24 Fee added ($200).
2018-04-24 Savvina Chowdhury joins the teaching team; description has been updated.