Climate Politics, Ecology and Society
Optional for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students of the PhD Programme in "Political Science and Sociology"
Optional for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students of the PhD Programme in "Transnational Governance"
Optional for the 4th and 5th year students of the MA Programme in "Political and Social Sciences"
The years since 2018 have seen an unprecedented wave of mobilisation around climate change in Europe, particularly among young people. The massive participation in climate action of a previously not politicised youth has transformed the landscape of environmental campaigning, bringing new and diverse actors to the fore. A new generation has been taking the streets, strengthening and revitalising already existing strands of climate action. Together, they have helped transform the framing of climate change into one of climate emergency and experimented with alternatives. These processes take place in a context in which, on the one hand, the issue of climate change has been increasingly discussed in global governance arenas and, on the other hand, grassroots alternative ecological practices, in particular in the field of agriculture and consumption, have developed in different areas. The goal of this seminar is to address, in an introductory way, the issue of climate change as a political issue, with a particular focus on its significance for collective action. The main focus of the course will be the climate justice movement, the development of environmentalism in different polities and the significance of climate action for the study of social movements, tackling such issues as the relationship between lifestyle and politics, the individualisation of collective action, the role of millenarism and apocalypticism. Furthermore, the seminar will focus on: political ecology and social theories on the environment and climate change; the issue of climate change in national and global governance; agroecological practices and prefigurative politics in context. Throughout the course, unpublished research material collected by the instructor in his ongoing project on climate action will be presented and discussed.
The course will have a seminar structure, with weekly discussions on selected readings and the direct relationship with theoretical and empirical research on the issues of climate change and collective action. Every session will be introduced by the lecturer (or by a guest lecturer), followed by an open discussion of the readings. Attendees are required to read the material, present the readings in a critical perspective, and actively participate in the following discussion. References to the attendees’ own research projects are encouraged.
PhD students will be evaluated based on their active participation in class, and the instructor will determine whether they have passed or failed the course. PhD students who opt to write a term paper for this course should consult the instructor in advance and agree on a topic.
Master students will be evaluated based on their active participation in class (50%) and on a final paper of 2000-3000 words on one of the topics covered during the course (50%). The instructor is available for consultation on the topic of the paper and for advice on its structure and content. The final grade will be expressed on a 30-point scale. The paper can be written in English or Italian and must be delivered by April 30th, 2022.
1. Climate politics, ecology and society: interdisciplinary background
Wednesday, January 19th 10-13
In the first session we will address the issue of climate change in its social and political implications through the conceptual lenses of different disciplines: environmental politics, human geography and political ecology.
Castree N. and Braun B. (2001) Social nature: Theory, practice, and politics. Oxford: Blackwell, Chapter 1.
Malm, A. (2016) Fossil capital. The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming. London: Verso, Chapter 1.
Moore, J. W. (2016) The Rise of Cheap Nature. In: Moore, J.W. (ed.) Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Oakland: PM Press, pp. 78-115.
Robbins, P. (2012) Political Ecology: A Critical Introduction. London: Wiley-Blackwell, Chapter 1.
Schlosberg, D. and Collins, L. (2014) From environmental to climate justice: climate change and the discourse of environmental justice. WIREs Climate Change 5(3), pp. 359-374.
2. Political ecology and climate policy
(with guest speaker Emanuele Leonardi, Università di Bologna)
Wednesday, January 26th 10-13
The second session will be dedicated to the reconstruction of the main frameworks of global climate politics in a historical perspective.
Aykut, S.C., Morena, E. & Foyer, J. (2021) ‘Incantatory’ governance: global climate politics’ performative turn and its wider significance for global politics. International Politics 58, pp. 519–540.
Leonardi, E. (2017) Carbon trading dogma: Theoretical assumptions and practical implications of global carbon markets. Ephemera 17(1), pp. 61-87.
Vlachou, A. (2014) The European Union's Emissions Trading System. Cambridge Journal of Economics 38(1), pp. 127-152
3. Climate movements: framing, organisation, opposition
Wednesday, February 2nd 10-13
The third session will focus on climate-oriented grassroots movements and their evolution, both in terms of framing and organisation. Furthermore, climate change denialism will be addressed.
Chatterton, P., Featherstone, D. and Routledge, P. (2012) Articulating Climate Justice in Copenhagen: Antagonism, the Commons, and Solidarity. Antipode 45(3), pp. 602-620.
de Moor, J., De Vydt, M., Uba, K. and Wahlström, M. (2021) New kids on the block: taking stock of the recent cycle of climate activism, Social Movement Studies 20(5), pp. 619-625.
Dunlap, R.E. and McCright, A.M. (2012) Organized Climate Change Denial. In:Dryzek, J.S., Norgaard, R.B. and Schlosberg, D. (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 144-160.
Saunders, C. (2012) Reformism and radicalism in the Climate Camp in Britain: benign coexistence, tensions and prospects for bridging. Environmental Politics 21(5), pp. 829-846.
Wahlström, M., Wennerhag, M., & Rootes, C. (2013). Framing “the climate issue”: Patterns of participation and prognostic frames among climate summit protestors. Global Environmental Politics, 13(4), 101–122.
Zamponi, L., Deseriis, M. and Ceccobelli, D. (2021) Communication and Organization in Climate Action: The Cases of Italy and Belgium, unpublished paper.
4. Climate movements: post-politics and post-apocalypse
Wednesday, February 9th 10-13
In our fourth session we will continue the discussion on climate movements, addressing two specific issues: their relationship with politics and ideology and their temporalities.
de Moor, J. (2021) Postapocalyptic narratives in climate activism: their place and impact in five European cities. Enviromental Politics [online first]
Kenis, A. (2019) Post-politics contested: Why multiple voices on climate change do not equal politicisation. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space 37(5), pp. 831-848.
Kenis, A. (2021) Clashing Tactics, Clashing Generations: The Politics of the School Strikes for Climate in Belgium. Politics and Governance 9(2), pp. 135–145.
Mische, A. (2014). Measuring futures in action: Projective grammars in the Rio + 20 debates. Theory and Society, 43(3), 437–464.
Saunders, C., Doherty, B. and Hayes, G. (2020) A New Climate Movement?: Extinction Rebellion's Activists in Profile. CUSP Working Paper 25.
5. Climate, science and expertise
(with guest speaker Riccardo Emilio Chesta, Scuola Normale Superiore)
Wednesday, February 16th 10-13
In our fifth session we will focus on the complex and often ambiguous role of science in climate action, addressing both epistemological issues, debates on the engagement of intellectuals and research on the mobilisation of expertise.
Castree, N. et al. (2014) Changing the intellectual climate. Nature Climate Change 4, pp. 763–768.
Chesta, R.E. (2020) The Contentious Politics of Expertise: Experts, Activism and Grassroots Environmentalism. London: Routledge, chapter 6.
Sachs, W. (2019) Foreword: The Development Dictionary Revisited. In: Kothari, A., Salleh, A., Escobar, A., Demaria, F. and Acosta, A. (eds.) Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary. New Delhi: Tulika Books, pp. xi-xvi.
Yearley, S. (1992) Green Ambivalence about Science: Legal-Rational Authority and the Scientific Legitimation of a Social Movement. The British Journal of Sociology 43(4), pp. 511-532.
6. Direct social action, lifestyle politics and sustainable materialism: prefiguration in climate action
Wednesday, February 23rd 10-13
Our sixth session will be dedicated to forms of climate action that escape the traditional claim-based repertoire of action, focusing instead on immediately changing society, including the ongoing debates on direct social action, lifestyle politics and sustainable materialism in climate action research.
de Moor, J., Catney, P., Doherty, B. (2021) What hampers ‘political’ action in environmental alternative action organizations? Exploring the scope for strategic agency under post-political conditions. Social Movement Studies, 20(3), 312-328.
Maniates, M. F. (2001). Individualization: Plant a tree, buy a bike, save the world? Global Environmental Politics, 1(3), 31–52.
Schlosberg, D. 2019. From postmaterialism to sustainable materialism : The environmental politics of practice-based movements From postmaterialism to sustainable materialism. Environmental Politics [online first].
Schlosberg, D., Coles, R. 2016. The New Environmentalism of Everyday Life: Sustainability, Material Flows and Movements. Contemporary Political Theory, 15(2): 160–181.
Thörn, H., & Svenberg, S. 2016. We feel the responsibility that you shirk’: Movement institutionalization, the politics of responsibility and the case of the Swedish environmental movement. Social Movement Studies, 15(6), 593–609.
Zamponi, L., Baukloh, A., Bertuzzi, N., Chironi, D., della Porta, D. and Portos, M. (2021) (Water) Bottles and (Street) Barricades: the Politicisation of Lifestyle-Centred Action in Youth Climate Strike Participation, unpublished paper.
7. Agroecology: ideas and practices
(with guest speaker Laura Mendoza Sandoval, Scuola Normale Superiore)
Wednesday, March 2nd 10-12
Our final session will deal with agroecology as a fundamental component of climate politics, analysing its theoretical foundations, strategic issues and challenges in a comparative framework.
Giraldo, O.F. and Rosset, P.M. (2018) Agroecology as a territory in dispute: between institutionality and social movements. The Journal of Peasant Studies 45(3), pp. 545-564.
Shiva, V. (2016) Who really feeds the world? The failure of agribusiness and the promise of agroecology. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, Chapter 1.
Sevilla Guzmán, E. and Woodgate, G. (2013) Agroecology: Foundations in agrarian social thought and sociological theory. Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems 37(1), pp. 32-44.
Tornaghi, CC. and Dehaene, M. (2020) The prefigurative power of urban political agroecology: rethinking the urbanisms of agroecological transitions for food system transformation. Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems 44(5), pp. 594-610.
van der Ploeg, J.D. (2020) The political economy of agroecology. The Journal of Peasant Studies 48(2), pp. 274-297.
This syllabus may be subjected to changes until the beginning of the course. This version was uploaded on September 30, 2021.
By the end of the seminar, students will have developed an introductory but comprehensive critical understanding of the social and political implications of climate change, with a particular focus on the relationship between climate change and collective action.