Climate Justice (August 2022 – December 2022, Instructor: Dr. Meg Mills-Novoa, GSI: Jaye Mejía-Duwan & Aaditee Kudrimoti, Undergraduate, 3 units)

Syllabus here

Climate change is transforming our world in ways we are only beginning to understand, and in ways we cannot yet imagine. The climate crisis is deeply connected to injustice, both locally and globally. First, anthropogenic climate change is driven by unequal patterns of development and consumption. Second, climate change impacts are layered onto and worsen pre-existing inequalities and injustices with those having contributed least to climate change facing its gravest impacts. Third, the proposed solutions to climate change, through both cutting greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation) and responding to impacts (adaptation) can bolster or undermine social justice.

 This course will explore these multidimensional facets of climate justice while also examining potential pathways forward. Central to understanding climate justice is clarifying what justice means. Justice is not a universal truth. Rather, there are varied notions of justice that lead to different decisions, goals, and processes. In this course, we ground our exploration of climate change in the theories of justice that are being advanced in scholarly, policy, and activist debates on how to address climate change.

 There are no prerequisites for this course beyond a commitment to ask hard questions, engage meaningfully with each other, and to do our collective best to recognize injustice where we find it and question our own assumptions.

In this course we will bring together peer-reviewed scholarship, literature and media, policy, and activism around interacting themes of climate change and social justice. We will examine the history of climate change while also looking at varied possibilities for our future. This course includes readings, podcasts, videos, and guest lectures from diverse experts from both within and outside academia

Political Ecologies of Climate Change (January 2023-May 2023, Instructor: Meg Mills-Novoa, Graduate, 3 Units) 

Syllabus here

As the climate crisis escalates and mitigation efforts stagnate, climate change adaptation has come to the forefront of public debates and funding priorities. Adaptation finance has steadily increased over the past decade to 46 billion USD annually in 2019/2020. While this level of funding remains well below the estimated 155-330 billion USD needed annually by 2030 for adaptation, this climate finance translates to hundreds of projects globally, with real consequences for communities on the frontlines of climate change.

This course will explore the varied political ecologies of climate change adaptation. Political ecology, as a conceptual framework and sub-field, examines the broad systems that shape human-society relationships rather than solely blaming local forces, understanding ecological systems as “power-laden.” By drawing on political ecology, this course will include both foundational and emerging scholarship that explores how climate change adaptation is shaping and being shaped by the material impacts of climate change, the political economy of climate governance and finance, and the agency of experts, funders, promoters, and the individuals and collectives adapting to climate change. We will examine the history of climate change adaptation concepts and governance while also exploring emerging frontiers in political ecologies of the climate crisis. 

This course is best suited for doctoral and research-oriented masters students interested in climate change adaptation. There are no prerequisites for this course, but students ideally have done some coursework or reading in broader political ecology and/or political economy. This seminar will bring together peer-reviewed scholarship with assignments that help students develop essential academic skills.