‘The environment’ figures dominantly in our daily lives and academic pursuits—from concerns over climate change and biodiversity loss, to energy policy and agricultural development. Yet we rarely stop to consider how environmental concerns are tied to specific contexts, histories, and power struggles. In this class we do just that, through the lens of political ecology, a growing sub-discipline, which aims to understand the links between people, the environment, and global political economic processes.
A political ecology approach highlights the power dynamics involved in knowing, managing, and making claims on the environment, (including those related to gender, class, indignity, development and conservation planning). In this class we will discuss the creation of political ecology as a sub-field, and explore its value for understanding a diversity of topics including wildlife management in East Africa, stream restoration and urban gardens in the US, and development in West Africa. You will leave the class with a more complete view of environmental debates and the guiding principles that make political ecology a strong and growing sub-field.