814.547 (19S) Unjust Climate - the unequal burden sharing of human induced climate change

Sommersemester 2019

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Erster Termin der LV
12.03.2019 15:00 - 17:00 SFG, SR 3a Off Campus
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LV-Titel englisch
Unjust Climate - the unequal burden sharing of human induced climate change
Seminar (prüfungsimmanente LV )
10 (25 max.)
zum Moodle-Kurs

Zeit und Ort

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Intendierte Lernergebnisse

Learning outcome: Insights on notion and genesis of Environmental Justice, how it has been used in Europe and how it relates to the notion of Climate Justice as well as how environmental injustice can be studied. Further knowledge on environmental injustice should be gained.

Lehrmethodik inkl. Einsatz von eLearning-Tools

Along the lines described below we will discuss a selection of the quoted articles and will identify factors missing in literature that might explain differences in etymology and ontology of injustice in Europe and the US. Likely examples of underexposed factors are differences in the legal systems or in settlement patterns (social segregation). We will discuss articles on climate justice and the emergence of the notion to contrast it with Environmental Justice and to better understand the implications of these differences.

After discussing together literature on Environmental Justice in the US amongst others written by Paul Mohai, we will link up via teleconference tools with him, as he is one of the leading US Environmental Justice scientists from Michigan University. He will summarize the history of EJ in US and talk about the Flint water crises, a special case of injustice. This should allow students to get a better view from behind the scenes of science. An important experience or a deeper understanding of science's modus operandi.

The learning process is facilitated and guided by lecturers, based on literature, will be enhanced by student inputs and will run through highly interactive debates.


We start with the notion (Kuehn, 2000) and history of environmental justice (Bullard, Mohai, Saha, & Wright, 2008; Mohai, Pellow, & Roberts, 2009), which has its roots in the US. We shed light on the differences between unequal burden sharing, injustice and discrimination as well as its relations to civil rights (J. Feagin, 2013; J. R. Feagin, 2014; J. R. Feagin & Feagin, 1978). Further we deal with how environmental justice was received in Europe (J. Agyeman, 2002; Julian Agyeman & Evans, 2004; Elvers, Gross, & Heinrichs, 2008) to finally focus on the broader issue of climate justice including the related unequal access to resources (Caney, 2014; Duro, Schaffartzik, & Krausmann, 2018; Forsyth, 2014; Kluttz & Walter 2018; Mayer, Haas, & Wiedenhofer, 2017; Schaffartzik & Fischer-Kowalski, 2018; Robinson & Shine, 2018; Routledge, Cumbers, & Derickson, 2018; Schlosberg & Collins, 2014).


Agyeman, J. (2002). Constructing Environmental (in)Justice: Transatlantic Tales. Environmental Politics, 11(3), 31–53. https://doi.org/10.1080/714000627

Agyeman, Julian, & Evans, B. (2004). „Just sustainability“: the emerging discourse of environmental justice in Britain? The Geographical Journal, 170(2), 155–164. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0016-7398.2004.00117.x

Bullard, R. D., Mohai, P., Saha, R., & Wright, B. (2008). Toxic wastes and race at twenty: Why race still matters after all of these years. Environmental Law, 371–411.

Caney, S. (2014). Two Kinds of Climate Justice: Avoiding Harm and Sharing Burdens: Two Kinds of Climate Justice. Journal of Political Philosophy, 22(2), 125–149. https://doi.org/10.1111/jopp.12030

Duro, J. A., Schaffartzik, A., & Krausmann, F. (2018). Metabolic Inequality and Its Impact on Efficient Contraction and Convergence of International Material Resource Use. Ecological Economics, 145, 430–440. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2017.11.029

Elvers, H.-D., Gross, M., & Heinrichs, H. (2008). The Diversity of Environmental Justice: Towards a European Approach. European Societies, 10(5), 835–856. https://doi.org/10.1080/14616690801890117

Feagin, J. (2013). Systemic racism: A theory of oppression. Routledge.

Feagin, J. R. (2014). Racist America: Roots, current realities, and future reparations. Routledge.

Feagin, J. R., & Feagin, C. B. (1978). Discrimination American style: Institutional racism and sexism. Prentice Hall.

Forsyth, T. (2014). Climate justice is not just ice. Geoforum, 54, 230–232. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2012.12.008

Kluttz, J., & Walter, P. (2018). Conceptualizing Learning in the Climate Justice Movement. Adult Education Quarterly, 68(2), 91–107. https://doi.org/10.1177/0741713617751043

Kuehn, R. R. (2000). A taxonomy of environmental justice. Environmental Law Reporter, 30, 10681.

Robinson, M., & Shine, T. (2018). Achieving a climate justice pathway to 1.5 °C. Nature Climate Change, 8(7), 564–569. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-018-0189-7

Routledge, P., Cumbers, A., & Derickson, K. D. (2018). States of just transition: Realising climate justice through and against the state. Geoforum, 88, 78–86. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2017.11.015



Reading assignments and tasks: Students will have reading assignments and will have to prepare and deliver short student inputs (as agreed in prior sessions).

Reflection paper: At the end of the course students should provide a reflection paper (about 10 pages). Preferably prepared in groups. Students should select factors identified during the seminar explaining differences of injustice in Europe and the US. By use of the course literature and own research they should further explore if these factors are explaining the differences and should provide arguments and/or evidence for this. Finally, they should draw their own conclusions on the selected issues.


Content: all content provided and discussed during the course


80% attendance, active participation, prepared student inputs, comments and questions, reflection paper


Note Benotungsschema

Position im Curriculum

  • Masterstudium Sozial- und Humanökologie (SKZ: 919, Version: 14W.1)
    • Fach: GWF1 Gesellschaft und Umwelt (Wahlfach)
      • GWF1 Vertiefung ( 0.0h VO, SE, EX, KU, SX / 14.0 ECTS)
        • 814.547 Unjust Climate - the unequal burden sharing of human induced climate change (2.0h SE / 4.0 ECTS)
  • Masterstudium Sozial- und Humanökologie (SKZ: 919, Version: 14W.1)
    • Fach: GWF2 Nachhaltige Ressourcennutzung (Wahlfach)
      • GWF2 Vertiefung ( 0.0h VO, SE, EX, KU, SX / 14.0 ECTS)
        • 814.547 Unjust Climate - the unequal burden sharing of human induced climate change (2.0h SE / 4.0 ECTS)

Gleichwertige Lehrveranstaltungen im Sinne der Prüfungsantrittszählung

Sommersemester 2020
  • 814.547 SE Environmental and Climate Justice (2.0h / 4.0ECTS)
Sommersemester 2018
  • 814.547 SE Environmental Justice & Climate Justice in the US and Europe: Understanding Differences and Commonalities (2.0h / 4.0ECTS)
Sommersemester 2017
  • 814.547 SE Environmental Justice in the US and Europe: Understanding Differences and Communalities (2.0h / 4.0ECTS)