BSc Geography with International Study
Year of entry: 2018
Course unit details:
Environment and development
|Unit level||Level 3|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 2|
|Offered by||Global Development Institute|
|Available as a free choice unit?||Yes|
The course will investigate the evolution of ‘mainstream’ development thinking centred on industrialisation and modernisation, and the growth of environmental critiques, culminating in international consensus of ‘sustainable development’. A critical approach to environmental arguments will be developed drawing on the literature on ‘political ecology’ to problematize the role of knowledge and power in establishing environmental goals. This conceptual framework will then be applied to a number of specific instances of policy debates over natural resource use.
- To provide a critical review of the origins and evolution of concepts of ‘development’ and environmentalism, and the emergence of ideas of ‘sustainable development’.
- To explore relationships between environmental and development thinking using insights from ‘political ecology’
- To explore the nature of environmental critiques of ‘development’ and debates about their validity
- To analyse specific policy debates and controversies over natural resource use and its consequences.
By the end of this course unit you should:
- Be able to demonstrate an understanding of the principle theories of development and the influence that environmental thinking has had on each.
- Be able to demonstrate familiarity with critical approaches to environmental agendas using arguments drawn from ‘political ecology’
- Be able to use specific policy debates about natural resource management to illustrate conceptual arguments about the role of environmental thinking in development agendas.
The week-by-week timetable for the course will be:
Week 1: Introduction/course overview – the roots of environmentalism and ‘development’
Week 2: The politics of the environment and development – towards a ‘Political Ecology’
Week 3: Limits to growth? Global environmental change and environmental science.
Week 4: Limits to science? The myth of the advancing desert.
Week 5: Limits to institutions? community-based natural resource management
Week 6: Debating (over)population
Week 7: Debating food security: agriculture and the land grab
Week 8: Debating big capital: social responsibility in mineral extraction
Week 9: Debating climate change mitigation: energy generation vs carbon sequestration
Week 10: Debating biodiversity: Parks against the people?
Week 11: (Re)conceptualizing environment and development
Week 12: Revision
Teaching and learning methods
The course unit will be delivered via a two-hour weekly lecture class and a one hour tutorial. Reading prior to lectures and completion of preparatory work for the tutorial exercise is compulsory.
All materials relating to the course will be available on blackboard.
Transferable skills and personal qualities
During this course unit, you will be encouraged to develop the following abilities and skills:
- Critical thinking in relation to empirical evidence and theoretical arguments developed and utilized by geographers and other social scientists
- Write and talk about key issues relating environmental and social change in an articulate, structured, reasoned and informed way
- Be introduced to ideas, practices and case studies that will be relevant to a diverse range of career opportunities that includes: environmental management, development and environmental policy and advocacy work.
There will be unseen 2 hour examination at the end of the course (67%), as well as an individual piece of coursework (33%, 3000 word essay).
Feedback will be provided in the following ways during this course unit:
- extensive verbal feedback through Q&A, discussion and interactive activities within lectures;
- verbal feedback on any course unit issue through consultation hours;
- verbal feedback on exam performance through personal tutorials;
- detailed written feedback on the coursework assignment.
Forsyth, T. 2003. Critical Political Ecology Routledge
Robbins, P. 2011. Political Ecology (2nd edn), Wiley-Blackwell.
Watts, M. Peet, R. and Robbins, P. 2010 Global Political Ecology Taylor and Francis
Geoforum, Global Environmental Change, Journal of Peasant Studies, World Development, Development and Change, Journal of Development Studies
|Scheduled activity hours|
|Assessment written exam||2|
|Independent study hours|
|Tomas Frederiksen||Unit coordinator|