IDM099-Global Environmental Change, Justice and Development

Module Provider: School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Dr Andrew Ainslie


Type of module:

Summary module description:

It’s an ever more interconnected world out there with complex, interacting drivers of change. You’ll learn about the trade-offs in environmental change and social justice that are now central to the development–environment nexus at all levels, from local to global. By exploring a range of conceptual framings of this complexity and then applying this learning to a number of exciting case-studies, you will develop the expertise to understand - and the confidence to tackle - socio-environmental challenges. And you will learn this all through reading, interactive small-group learning, film clips, seminars, study visits, and case-studies introduced and led by regional specialists.


To encourage and foster in students the ability and confidence to:

  • develop robust, well-informed and evidence-based critiques of key theories and conceptual frameworks that relate to environmental theorising, management and evaluation within a developing world context,

  • critically appraise how environmental justice concerns are conceptualised in a range of settings in both the  Majority World and the Global North, 

  • examine the roles played by different institutions, actors and stakeholders in the inter-related fields of environment and development

  • apply their critical reasoning skills to researching cross-cutting issues relating to global environmental change, including the ability to analyse, evaluate and synthesise complex and multi-layered processes and phenomena.

  • construct and explore detailed, case study-based analyses of environmental dilemmas in selected Majority World and the Global North country contexts

  • generate critical analyses of policy and programmatic responses to environmental challenges

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module students should be able to:

  1. Identify, evaluate and synthesise information and knowledge drawn from a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives and philosophical frameworks

  2. Generate critical, theoretically-informed perspectives on topical issues in environment and development in converging global, regional and local contexts

  3. Develop and articulate rigorous, robust yet balanced arguments on how key stakeholders, including states, multilateral/bilateral organisations, the private sector, non-governmental organisations and civil society influence the Global Environmental Change, Justice and Development agenda in specific countries and globally.

  4. Synthesise and critically appraise the relationships between Global Environmental Change, Justice and Development, with particular regard to their inter-relationships, in specific case-study areas.

Additional outcomes:

Students will utilise and hone the following skills:

  • communicate their findings and conclusions clearly and coherently in (essay) writing and in presentations to academic staff and their peers

  • engage in critical discussion of other people’s ideas and presentations

  • demonstrate good academic practice in use, citation and referencing of source material

  • use appropriate bibliographic sources and search tools to identify and evaluate literature relevant to a given topic

  • engage in group work, thereby learning about their own knowledge acquisition and transmission strategies and about fostering co-operative, peer-to-peer learning techniques

  • peer and self-assessment

Outline content:

(as several of these classes are offered by guest lecturers whose availability is not yet confirmed, these topics are indicative and subject to change)

Part 1 (Autumn Term):

  1. Environment, Justice and Development: Wicked problems and policy challenges in the 21st century

  2. Theories and conceptual framings of nature, environmental change and social justice

  3. Systems thinking in interdiscip linary contexts: conceptual models linking economic growth and development with GEC, including the essentials of biodiversity and its conservation

  4. The Tragedy of the Commons – understanding collective action and the global commons

  5. Paragons of virtue or obstacles to ‘genuine’ transformation (or both)? The UN Agencies, NGOs and CBOs and their impacts on/in the Majority World 

  6. The Role of the Private Sector in Global Environment al Change, Justice and Development

  7. Urban Environmental Governance and ‘Smart’ Management

  8. Trends and Transitions: demographic, nutrition, waste management, information

  9. Extractive and regenerative industries – Agriculture and the Global Food System

  10. ‘Uncertainty’ and the GEC, Justice and Development situation 30yrs from now – What use are scenarios and other ‘horizon scanning’ methods?

Part 2: 

  1. Introduction: How to tackle case-study-centred research and analysis. Case-study 1: Livestock Production Systems: Environments, Livelihoods and ‘Efficiency’

  2. The Renewable Energy Agenda in selected developing countries

  3. Managing water resources in trans-boundary Rivers: Arenas of Conflict and Cooperation in the Indus River Basin

  4. What are the dri vers of environmental change in the Brazilian Amazon and what are the justice gains/deficits?

  5. The Politics of climate change adaptation: Displacement and planned resettlement in the Maldives

  6. Class Debate: Trade-offs relating to Biodiversity Conservation on a Planetary and Local Scale – the case of Virunga National Park

  7. Environmental Justice, Participation, Citizen Science: Class to agree a topic/context for this week

  8. Diff icult and overlooked institutional issues in natural resource management – examples from fisheries co-management, with special reference to Bangladesh

  9. Taking Environmental Management and Rehabilitation seriously in the wake of the mining sector

  10. What are the key ingredients of a ‘Transition Economy’ that is characterised by Low Carbon technologies and High social/environmental Justice ‘?

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The module comprises a series of lectures, guest speaker seminars and external visits. In the Autumn term, lectures are taught using a diverse set of materials to illustrate theories and concepts; use is made of video clips and other media, and group discussions/seminars are centred on both academic texts and popular media. Additional individual study and extensive preparation (reading, watching assigned video clips) prior to lectures is required to ensure participation in class. Students wil l be expected to make individual presentations on selected topics which will be provided at the start of the module. These presentations fall outside the weekly two-hour teaching session. Wherever relevant, students are strongly encouraged to reflect and draw up-on their own prior experience and professional practice.

Spring term will be similar in format but will allow students to explore key topics in greater depth through the use of critical readings, discussions, and group-based work. Several seminars will be led by outside specialist speakers drawn variously from NGOs and the private sector, thus allowing students to gain a wider perspective on the issues being examined. Students are actively encouraged to attend seminars, guest lectures and workshops around the University and to report back on these seminars.

The information on contact hours and the split between lectures, seminars and external visits is provisional at this stage and will be confirmed at the beginning of the module.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 12 13
Seminars 8 7
External visits 6 6
Guided independent study: 74 74
Total hours by term 100 100
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 40
Oral assessment and presentation 10
Class test administered by School 50

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Autumn term: 

(i) A compulsory oral presentation on the essay topic will constitute 10% of the final mark (typically to be presented around Week 5)

(ii) A 2,000 word essay with the topic selected from a list of topics to be provided by the module convenor at the start of the module. Any changes to essay topics need to be put to the module convenor in writing/email and only taken as acceptable if the module convenor confirms in writing/email. The essay counts for 40% of the final mark and is to be submitted by the last week of Autumn term

Spring term: 

(i) Class test on key concepts learned in Autumn Term. This will count 20% of the final mark. The test will be timetabled outside of the lecture time in the second week of Spring Term.

(iv) An ‘open book’ written report in class on ‘How would you approach the following issue?’ (30%) This will be timetabled to take place outside of lecture times but in the final week of Spring Term.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

Assessment requirements for a pass:

Attainment of 50% mark overall.

Reassessment arrangements:

By coursework: submission of a written assignment.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear: strong boots/Wellington boots for outdoor fieldtrips

Last updated: 17 July 2020


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