We live in a world in which people are unequally affected by environmental problems, an issue explored by the concept of environmental justice. This body of work takes the normative assumption that all people deserve equitable distribution of the risks and benefits stemming from the environment. This course will examine issues involving the relationship between environmental processes and social justice through a global lens -- asking why, and through what processes, some groups are regularly exposed to environmental hazards and excluded from basic resources, while others have consistent and near-guaranteed access to environmental goods.
This course will offer introductory discussion to a number of themes, including globalization, ecologically unequal exchange, protected areas, natural disasters, and other related topics. We will illustrate theoretical discussions with case studies from around the world. These discussions will be complemented with a number of different creative and engaging exercises that elucidate these problems. For their research projects, students will be asked to pick an example of a global environmental problem that aptly illustrates one of the core themes of global environmental justice. For example, students might profile a protected area in the Global South, documenting who the lands belonged to before the park was established, who paid for its establishment, and for whom and for what purposes the park was designated. Finally, students will explore the current ideas that are being explored to address these global problems, and offer some ideas themselves.