'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? What are its implications for ongoing climate politics, policy-making, and evolving power relations? What does it mean for life and livelihood in a diverse and unequal world?
This program involves an in-depth analysis of the social dimensions of climate change, focused on notions of equity and justice at multiple scales. Students will unpack the complex and multifaceted discourse of climate justice by learning to distinguish between different theoretical frameworks, including distributive, procedural, representational, and political economy. We will critically evaluate justice claims embedded in a wide range of climate mitigation and adaptation proposals; past and present international treaties and climate policies; place-based climate justice movements; and arguments for large scale structural transformations that seek to address the root causes of anthropogenic climate change. A key goal for the program will be to examine the synergies and contradictions among competing approaches towards conceptualizing climate justice.
The program will explore case studies of front-line communities, and of communities grappling with various climate initiatives. Our inquiries will be informed by theoretical and conceptual frameworks in political ecology, environmental justice, and critical development studies. Students will write a substantive research paper utilizing qualitative research methods introduced in the program, and a review of the scholarly literature pertaining to a research question of their choice.