This course will take a close look at the linkages between the environment and peace and conflict. First we will introduce the theme of global environmental change and its impacts on human security, development and life in general. We will discuss the different root causes of these environmental and social or development crises as they come forward in the literature, focusing on overpopulation, industrial development, and free market capitalism and globalization. Part of this discussion will be an analysis of the responses to this crisis and what can, should and is being done to stop it.
A second theme we will discuss is the way sustainability is defined and measured, analyzing different aspects of the political characteristics of measuring, and of the complexities around coming up and using indicators to measure something as complex as sustainability. We will analyze the often proposed focus based on the faith on technological efficiency, and demonstrate that technology by itself won’t solve the sustainability problem with regards to the environmental and social dimensions.
A third main theme of this course is to look at the different linkages between environment and violent conflicts. We will discuss the literature on environmental security, going from older frameworks of scarcity induced conflicts to more complex notions of natural resource abundance, globalization, and historical, political, ecological and economic issues that influence peace and conflicts. The topic of environmental peacebuilding will be presented and critically analyzed. We will make use of specific case studies that give insights into the often contradictory roles of the environment and natural resources when analyzing peace and conflicts.