'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 three 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 conceptual frameworks, including Indigenous, postcolonial, feminist, and Marxist political economy. We will consider 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 structural change 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, of communities that have developed strategies for resilience, and the lived experience of communities grappling with various climate initiatives across space and time. Our inquiries will be informed by theoretical and conceptual frameworks in political ecology, environmental justice, and critical development studies. Student learning will be facilitated by lectures, closed reading of texts, seminars, films, and workshops, including a mock UN climate negotiations exercise. Students will complete various writing assignments including synthesis and argumentative essays, and a substantive research paper based on a review of the scholarly literature pertaining to a research question of their choice. It is possible to take the program for 12 credits by opting out of the research paper assignment. Please contact the faculty at Academic Fair or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in this option.