Global Environmental Justice

Course content

This course interrogates the intersection of environmental studies with ethical and political theories of justice. As a class, we will engage with issues of environmental justice and injustice on a global scale. We will give special consideration to the intersecting dimensions of race, ethnicity, class, and gender as well as global economic inequality and settler colonialism. An important dimension of the class will be learning about the understandings of environment, and claims to justice, mobilized by social movements seeking to address environmental injustice.


Through readings, in-class discussions, guest lectures, selected films and documentaries, and a final project, students will be asked to reflect critically on the root causes of the uneven distribution of the basic resources necessary for life. We will consider the selective toxic contamination and dumping on certain lands and waters, and the uneven experiences of accelerating global climate change. We will discuss the social movements locally and globally that are challenging and, in some cases, transforming such inequality.


The course will begin with an introduction to theories of environment, justice, and scientific knowledge production, including such texts as William Cronon’s (1995) critique of wilderness and Donna Haraway’s (1988) “Situated Knowledge” and Robin Wall Kimmerer’s article on “The Grammar of Animacy” (2017). From there we will move to an investigation of themes in environmental in/justice, highlighting cases and perspectives from around the world. Each week we will focus on a different theme and case study: linking theoretical articles with ethnographic and case-based readings and shorts films. In our weekly in-class discussion of these materials we will consider how capital flows and the distribution of power shape who has access to the necessities of life and to clean environments, and who does not, and how the world itself is being radically altered by human action. Throughout the course, we will continually return to the question of how plural understandings of justice and the environment underwrite, or challenge, environmental destruction, and socio-economic inequality. The course will conclude with a section specifically contemplating environmental justice beyond the human. In this portion, we will weave together threads from throughout the course, to consider what ethical and political obligations humans may have to more-than-human beings, and how the struggle to protect these beings is often tied up with the social justice struggles of marginalized human groups. 


MSc in Political Science

MSc in Social Science

MSc in Security Risk Management

Bachelor in Political Science



In the autumn 2022 the course is also offered to students at the


- Master Programme in Social Data Science

- Bachelor and Master Programmes in Anthropology


Enrolled students register the course through the Selfservice. Please contact the study administration at each programme for questions regarding registration.

Learning outcome


- Describe diverse approaches to the concept of the environment

- Describe different ethical and political theories of justice

- Insights into current issues and debates about environmental justice and injustice globally

- Knowledge of social movements, at the local and global levels, that are combatting environmental injustice

- Describe and critically engage with theories of the more-than-human, and the decentering of human exceptionalism within understandings of the environment and justice



- Reflect on the wider relevance and implications for theories of justice and the environment

- Consider the intersecting social dimensions of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and global inequality as they relate to peoples’ engagements with environmental justice, including increasingly important climate justice

- Think and reflect critically on concepts of environment, justice, global inequality, social movements, and how these relate to one’s own life



- Present academic work in oral and written forms, as well as give feedback on the presentations of others

- Conduct a literature review and write an in-depth research paper on a specific topic related to the themes of environment and justice

- Be able to think, discuss and write critically about conceptualizations of the environment and justice

- Overall development in the areas of academic writing, discussion, and presentation skills through constructive feedback from the instructor and peers

Each weekly session will be divided into two parts with a short break in between. The first part will include a presentation by the instructor while the second part will be comprised of short student-led presentations that will open the floor for group discussion. These discussions will critically engage with the assigned texts, including identifying key themes and academic debates running throughout the course. Students will submit short reading reflections each week as a means of synthesizing their thinking about what they have read in relationship to course themes, and in preparation for class discussion. Partway through the course students will submit a proposal for their final paper topic. The instructor will review these and provide feedback to the students who will then give a short presentation of their paper-in-progress in the final weeks of the course. Finally, students will submit a written free assignment as their final exam.

Please note that this is an indicative reading list. Full reading list will be made available two weeks prior to the start of the course.


Bauer, Andrew M. and Mona Bhan. 2018. Climate Without Nature: A Critical Anthropology of the Anthropocene. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Bennett, Jane. 2010. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Durham, NC: Duke University Press


Browne, Katherine E. 2013. "Standing in the Need: Life After Katrina." Anthropology Now 5 (1): 54-66.


Bullard, Robert D. 2000, third edition. Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class, and Environmental Quality. Third ed. Boulder, Colo: Westview Press.


Cronon, William. 1995. “The Trouble with Wilderness; Or Getting Back to the Wrong Nature.” In Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature, William Cronon, Ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. 69-90.


De La Cadena, Marisol and Mario Blaser, Eds. 2018. A World of Many Worlds. Durham and London: Duke University Press.


Haraway, Donna. 1988. "Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective." Feminist Studies 14 (3): 575-599.


Haraway, Donna Jeanne. 2016. Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham: Duke University Press.


Kapoor, Dip. 2017. Against Colonization and Rural Dispossession: Local Resistance in South and East Asia, the Pacific and Africa. London, UK: Zed.


Kimmerer, Robin Wall. 2013. Braiding Sweetgrass. First ed. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Milkweed Editions.


Kimmerer, Robin Wall. 2017. "Learning the Grammar of Animacy." Anthropology of Consciousness 28 (2): 128.


Kincaid, Jamaica. 1999. My Garden (Book). New York: Farrar Straus Giroux.


La Via Campesina. 2003. Declaration de Maputo: La Via Campesina.


Ley, Lukas. 2021. Building on Borrowed Time: Rising Seas and Failing Infrastructure in Semarang. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.


Moore, Jason W., Editor. 2016. Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capialism. Leicester, UK: Kairos.


Stamatopoulou-Robbins, Sophia. 2019. Waste Siege: The Life of Infrastructure in Palestine. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.


Todd, Zoe. 2016. "An Indigenous Feminist's Take on the Ontological Turn: 'Ontology' is just another Word for Colonialism." Journal of Historical Sociology. 29 (1): 4-22.


Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt. 2014. "Strathern Beyond the Human: Testimony of a Spore." Theory, Culture & Society 31 (2-3): 221-241.


Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt, Heather Swanson, Elaine Gan, and Nils Bubandt. 2017. Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts of the Anthropocene. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

This course presupposes an interest in interdisciplinary work and familiarity with environmental issues broadly conceived.

Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Type of assessment details
Portfolio exam
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • English
  • 28


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 semester


Department of Political Science, Study Council
Contracting department
  • Department of Political Science
  • Department of Anthropology
  • Social Data Science
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator
  • Terese Virginia Gagnon   (13-7a6b786b7967346d676d74757446746f677934717b346a71)
Saved on the 28-04-2022

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