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Environmental Justice

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    Shutterstock, beeboys

NOVA PhD course of 6 ECTS, organised by Assistant Professor Mattias Borg Rasmussen, University of Copenhagen - Faculty of Science.
Course dates and location: 12-16 June 2017 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Course Description
Environmental inequities are demanding more attention than ever. This course aims to provide PhD students with theoretical perspectives and clear methodologies, to equip them to tackle diverse environmental injustices in terms of topic, scale and epistemologies. Drawing from the varied body work of critical geographers, political anthropologists and political ecologists, it will lay the foundation for future environmental justice (EJ) academics.

This course will present the evolution of the concept of EJ, from the realm of local advocacy to academia and from the US to the global context. It will complicate the notion of justice itself, drawing from philosophical traditions and engaging with epistemological conflicts. It will illustrate specific instances of environmental injustices in relation to topics such as pastoralism, forestry, chemicals and waste, climate change and extraction.

Students will be exposed to the realities of EJ advocacy groups that struggle to affect current environmental injustices. Groups working out of the Copenhagen area will present their work and respond to questions prepared in advance by participants.

Individual papers/projects will be handed in before the face-to-face course and be subject to peer-review, supplemented by tutor inputs.

Programme Outline
The first four course days will contain two interactive morning sessions in plenum. Afternoons will be comprised of two activities: i) engagement with EJ advocacy group (one per day); and ii) Peer-review of individual course papers in groups. Day five will feature a final lecture and closing remarks.

Pre-Campus Assignments

  • Complete an online quiz 4 weeks in advance of the course based on the readings for day 1, to ensure a common academic base and promote more active engagement;
  • Prepare key questions to pose to visiting representatives from four EJ advocacy groups; and
  • Submit an individual course paper 4 weeks in advance of the course.

Learning Outcomes

  • Participants will identify and differentiate different epistemological assumptions in academic and advocacy literatures on social justice and the environment


  • Participants will be familiarized with key debates on environmental inequities and develop methodological and analytic strategies for understanding these
  • Participants will learn to critically interrogate the environmental justice discourse and discuss the ethical implications of socially engaged scholarship and advocacy


  •  Participants will gain experience in critically reading and discussing research and scholarly work of other researchers

Evaluation Elements
Pass/fail evaluation will be based on: (i) satisfactory completion of quiz in advance of campus course; (ii) approval of individual course paper and; (iii) active participation during the campus course.

Pedagogical Approach
This course will engage students in case- and problem- based learning to equip them to ask critical questions and imagine methodological challenges when engaging with EJ as a research topic.

The course will harness new technologies (online discussion forums, padlets) to flip the classroom at multiple points throughout the course week.

Estimated Workload

  • 17 hours seminar
  • 18 hours lecture
  • 125 hours independent work
  • 20 hours other (online pre-course preparation to EJ advocacy group visits)

Prerequisite Knowledge
No particular prerequisite knowledge is required for this PhD course, excepting what should be acquired through the pre-campus assignment occurring shortly before the start of the course itself. Fundamental prerequisites do include a passion for critical thinking and just societies.

Admission for NOVA courses is handled by the course organiser/ the NOVA member institution organising the course. Please see the links in the margin for more information.

The course will be held at the Frederiksberg Campus of the University of Copenhagen and will be open to around 20 participants. We invite applications from PhD candidates from (but not limited to) social sciences whose research project is in line with the thematic scope of the course. Their work should be based on extensive fieldwork. Candidates can apply by sending both a 1 page CV and a 500 words outline of their project. This outline should specify how their PhD project relates to the overall theme of this course and give clear indications on the theoretical and methodological approach adopted. Applications should be sent to Lisbet Christoffersen,, no later than 1 January 2017. Successful applicants will be notified by 15 January 2017, where they will receive the list of literature and guidelines for drafting of the course paper. The course paper is due 15 April 2017 where it will be assessed by the course organizers and, if not approved, participants will receive comments by 1 May 2017 and will have to revise and resubmit a paper by 20 May 2017. Participation in the course is contingent upon approval of the course paper.

Application deadline: 1 January 2017. Applications include 1 page CV and 500 words outline of the project.

Course paper: First draft due 15 April 2017.  Revised paper submitted by 20 May.

Apply here

Published 28. June 2016 - 15:17 - Updated 24. August 2016 - 12:53

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