Environmental Political Theory (EPT) reflects on a range of new and already established terms and concepts that theorize about the human relationship to nature (or the non-human) and about “ways to reverse, mitigate, and/or adapt to ecological threats and devastation” (Gabrielson et al. 2016: 4). The authors in the field of EPT draw from various traditions in political theory (liberalism, republicanism, pluralism, critical theory etc.) and scholarship of neighboring disciplines (geography, philosophy, animal studies, feminist theory, science and technology studies etc.), which constitutes EPT as a broad field of inquiry. The theoretical concepts of interest, for example sustainability, biodiversity or the Anthropocene, cannot be contained within a particular issue area for government policy (such as environmental policy), but effect, on the contrary, a wide range of political concerns including culture and difference, citizenship, societal needs, democratic deliberation, human rights, structural injustice, consumption and well-being, wealth and poverty. It is therefore particularly important to develop a thorough understanding of these in political discussions widely disseminated, profoundly complex and often highly contested terms.
The seminar will engage with “classics” in the field (e.g. Dryzek’s Rational Ecology, Dobson’s Green Political Thought) as well as with contemporary theoretical debates within the Global Environmental Governance, Environmental Justice and/or Sustainability literature (Post-sustainability, Environmentality, New/Green Materialism etc.). The discussed texts use a number of different “techniques” in political theory, among them conceptual critique, normative analysis of structures of power or nuanced understandings of political values (e.g. democracy, justice and freedom). Thus, the seminar’s aim is to give a comprehensive overview of key approaches to political theorizing in relation to environmental concerns.
Death, Carl (ed.) (2014): Critical Environmental Politics. London/New York: Routledge.
Dryzek, John S.; Honig, Bonnie and Anne Phillips (eds.) (2006): The Oxford Handbook of Political Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Gabrielson, Teena; Hall, Cheryl; Meyer, John M. and David Schlosberg (eds.) (2016): The Oxford Handbook of Environmental Political Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Nicholson, Simon and Paul Wapner (eds.) (2015): Global Environmental Politics. From Person to Planet. London: Paradigm Publishers.
Course requirements (short):
The seminar (including all course materials provided) will be conducted in English. There is however no need for “Oxford English” language proficiency, the seminar should rather be understood as an exercise in reading, writing and debating in a non-native language. Apart from acquiring content-related knowledge in the field of Environmental Political Theory, the central goals of the seminar consist in the practice of reading and preparing academic literature systematically for discussion in class and learning to engage in these discussions through reasoned and theory-based argumentation.
Students will be required to hand in short written assignments on a number of topics discussed during the course of the semester. Possible questions to take up in an essay will be provided for each session (“Studienleistung”).
The seminar can be successfully completed by writing a term paper at the end of the semester (word count: 5000-6000, references included; deadline: September 30th 2017) (“Prüfungsleistung”).