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Political Ecology

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The course explores the interdisciplinary field of political ecology with a special focus on its historical dimension. Political ecology is a theoretical and methodological approach to the study of socio-ecological systems. It focuses on conflicts, power relations and uneven distribution of environmental costs and benefits. The field seeks to "politicise" debates about environmental problems, and thereby stands in contrast to a-political ecologies that tries to understand environmental issues in terms of universal driving forces related to, for example, population trends or biophysical factors.

The course intends to familiarise you with central concepts and tools used by political ecologists and thereby help you to take an active role in the political-ecological field if you wish. Unlike other sciences that you may be familiar with so far, political ecology does not work with experiments, modelling or quantitative analysis; instead, the course takes as its point of departure theoretical concepts that are documented through case studies which combine qualitative and quantitative information in an empirically-backed narrative ("story"). Each course occasion will focus on different key concept from political-ecological theory and use an important, published case study to illustrate how this concept is "put to work".

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Describe the present-day ecological crisis in the world from multiple perspectives: political-economic, cultural and epistemological
  • Analyse the historical processes that have led to the current crisis and how different social groups have been influenced by environmental problems in different geo-historical contexts;
  • Develop new and imaginative ways to conceptualize nature-society relationships in different geopolitical, historical and cultural contexts in order to contribute to the design of a more inclusive and socially just environmental policy.

In the 2020 Fall, the course will be held on ZOOM. 

The 2020 course will offer students the opportunity to become authors of the Atlas of the Other Worlds, an open-access database on grassroots initiatives to tackle climate change. 

The course will be held in English.

Course Instructors: Marco Armiero, Salvatore Paolo De Rosa, Roberta Biasillo

More information about the course at https://canvas.kth.se/courses/19983