You are on page 1of 7

ENVS 195: Climate Justice and Advocacy: Critical Social Movement Perspectives Spring 2014, Registrar’s number: 12923

Wednesdays, 4 - 7 PM, Old Mill Annex A200
Instructor: Brian Tokar, (Please indicate ‘195’ in your Subject line) Recent years have seen a growing worldwide response to the threat of potentially catastrophic climate disruptions. This course aims to offer a comprehensive critical outlook on this emerging global movement, with particular attention to current policy debates, various international perspectives, the outlook of climate justice, and potential directions for the future of this movement. Students will critically examine analytical readings and current news on climate issues and movements, explore the agendas and methods of various organizations and campaigns, and develop hands-on group projects that serve to apply this knowledge to local or regional efforts around climate and energy issues. Text to purchase: Kolya Abramsky, ed., Sparking A Worldwide Energy Revolution: Social Struggles in the Transition to a Post-petrol World (San Francisco: AK Press, 2010). Available at the UVM Bookstore. Text to download: Steffen Böhm and Siddartha Dabbhi, eds., Upsetting the Offset: The political economy of carbon markets (London: Mayfly Books, 2009). Download from Assignments and grading • • • Class participation, including student presentations of readings and postings to online discussions: 25% 2 response and reflection papers to readings, 4-7 pp. each, focusing on analysis, comparison and critique: 25%. News presentation and research paper: Analyzing an item in the news that addresses any of the issues discussed in class, or profiling an organization engaged in climate action: 25%. These will be presented throughout the semester. Students have 3 weeks after their presentation to submit this paper. Group project/presentation/paper: Participation in and/or analysis of a local campaign, event, or project related to climate/energy issues and advocacy: 25%. These will be presented during the final class session and also documented in writing.

The class will mainly be in a discussion/seminar format. The instructor’s presentations will introduce each week’s topic, aiming to highlight and clarify key concepts, and much of our class time will be devoted to questions, answers and discussions, including small group discussions. The instructor will offer qualitative comments on student papers in addition to grades. Students are expected to read the week’s materials carefully, and be prepared to participate in discussions drawing upon the ideas developed in the readings. Everyone is expected to attend every class (see Blackboard for specific absence policies) and participate in an active, informed and respectful manner in our class discussions, which will address many diverse aspects of the readings and a variety of related issues. Please feel free to respectfully share your disagreements and challenges, as these are generally far more interesting than simply echoing what you’ve read.

Students will have the opportunity to supplement in-class participation with comments on a Blackboard discussion forum. There is also a forum for notes and comments from small group discussions. Everyone is expected to contribute at least once to these forums, and substantive posts will help raise your participation grade. A third forum is aimed to help facilitate the formation of project groups. Each week, students will volunteer to present key ideas and questions from our week’s readings. Everyone should aim to do at least one presentation of a reading, and they will be an important part of your class participation grade. These presentations will usually follow the instructor’s introduction to the material. When you volunteer to present to the class on a reading, please aim to accomplish the following: 1. Explain how the particular reading was meaningful to you, and how/whether it added to your understanding of the week’s topic. It is important that you do NOT attempt to summarize the entire reading, in order to maximize time for discussion. 2. Choose 2 - 3 key passages from the reading to help orient our class discussion. 3. Offer a discussion question for the class, related to the reading as well as the overall topic. These should be specific enough to challenge everyone’s understanding of the reading, and open-ended enough to spark a good conversation. Written assignments for the semester are in three parts: 1. Two response/reflection papers on readings: These are short papers of 4 - 7 pages each, reflecting upon 2 or more of the required readings up to that time in the semester. The purpose is to offer analysis, comparisons and critiques of the ideas expressed, not to either recap what the authors are saying nor examine their writing style. All papers should be printed in 12 point type, 1 1/2- or double-spaced on a reasonable quality printer. Readings should be addressed in a single, unified essay, not separate commentaries on each individual reading. These papers are due the fifth and tenth weeks of class (2/12, 3/26), and students will be penalized for late papers, other than in exceptional circumstances with prior permission. There will be some leeway, however, for students who have a news analysis paper due that week. 2. News analysis – Presentation and paper: Throughout the semester, students are urged to keep a close eye on the news (in newspapers, magazines and electronic sources) for current articles relevant to the various topics addressed in this course. These may be accounts of popular movements around climate and energy, or related stories that the ideas discussed in this class may shed some light upon. It is important to identify and explore the advocacy, social movement, and/or activist dimensions of the story you choose. You can also choose to profile a particular organization; in this case it is essential that you draw upon sources other than the organization’s own website. Each student will be expected to offer one news presentation of approximately 10 - 15 minutes during the semester, and then develop the topic further in written form. This research paper should be 7 - 10 pages in length, draw upon a variety of sources, and offer background on the issue, the people and organizations involved, and feature an analysis of how it relates to the various movements or general themes explored in this class. You are encouraged to offer a thorough analysis of the story and/or organization, any important successes and/or limitations, and your conclusions and/or recommendations for further action. These papers should be fully documented and referenced, using any standard format for footnotes. 2

* Please be sure to contact the instructor via email for approval of your news presentation topic. * * The paper is due 3 weeks following your presentation. * 3. Final project/paper: Students will work in groups to develop a final project, or work with an existing organization or campaign that addresses one or more of the issues and perspectives developed in this course. Your project should have some public component, whether in the form of a demonstration, performance, art show, website, video or radio program, or other public presentation. These can be in coordination with an existing project or organization, either on or off-campus, or something developed uniquely by your group. Groups of 2 - 5 students are encouraged to work together, though individual projects are permitted, especially if the activity is part of an ongoing campaign or organizing effort. Projects can be documented in any appropriate medium, along with a final written report. During the 3rd week of class (1/29), we will begin to choose projects and groups. Right after Spring Break (3/12), groups and individuals should be prepared to submit a brief written proposal (1-2 pp.), which will not be graded, but rather allow the instructor to offer suggestions and resources to facilitate the success of your project; only one proposal per project is needed. Presentations of everyone’s final projects will be scheduled during our final class meeting, though some may choose to present earlier. Documentation of your projects (due no later than April 30th) can be a combination of group and individual writing. However, group reports should include an individual reflection by each participant (approx. 2 pp.) describing your particular role in the project, your feelings about the group effort and dynamics, and what you might do differently in the future (these can be submitted together as part of a whole package, or individually if you wish). Project reports should be 6 - 12 pages in length, not including the selfreflections. They may tend toward the shorter end of this range if you are offering substantial non-written documentation (slide presentations, videos, art projects, etc.), and on the longer end if you are not, and address: 1. The overall concept of the project, its rationale, motivation, public significance. 2. The methods and techniques used, and their relation to the ideas discussed in this course. 3. The effectiveness of the project, public impact (tangible or potential), creativity, and effective use of time and resources. 4. The outcome of the project, and possible future steps. Students who for some particular reason do not wish to engage in a project will have the option of submitting a final research paper instead. These will be 15 - 20 pages in length, are graded on analysis and originality, and the topic needs to be pre-approved by the instructor. Course Schedule and Readings

[Note: Readings not found in the 2 texts listed above are either on Blackboard, or in a packet available from the Environmental Program office at Bittersweet House, 153 South Prospect St.]
Week 1 – Jan. 15th: The climate crisis in perspective Wen Stephenson, “Grassroots Battle Against the Big Oil Beast,” The Nation, October 28, 2013 James Gustave Speth, “Looking into the Abyss,” from The Bridge at the End of the World M. Mastrandrea and S. Schneider, “Climate Change Science Overview,” from S. Schneider, et al., Climate Change Science and Policy 3

Week 2 – Jan. 22nd: Social and environmental movements D. McAdam and D. Snow, “Social Movements: Conceptual and Theoretical Issues,” from Readings on Social Movements: Origins, Dynamics and Outcomes Charles Tilly, “Social Movements as Politics,” from Social Movements, 1768-2004 Paul Hawken, “Blessed Unrest,” from Blessed Unrest John M. Meyer, “Populism, paternalism and the state of environmentalism in the US,” Environmental Politics, Vol. 17, No. 2, April 2008 Guest speakers from 350-Vermont Week 3 – Jan. 29th: The politics of climate and energy Gary Bryner, “Failure and opportunity: Environmental groups in US climate change policy,” Environmental Politics, Vol. 17, No. 2, April 2008 Ryan Lizza, “As the World Burns: How the Senate and the White House missed their best chance to deal with climate change,” The New Yorker, October 2010. Brian Tokar, “Toward a Movement for Climate Justice,” from Toward Climate Justice: Perspectives on the Climate Crisis and Social Change (New Compass Press, 2010) Bruce Podobnik, “Building the Clean Energy Movement: Future Possibilities in Historical Perspective,” from Sparking A Worldwide Energy Revolution (Chapter 3) Initial discussion of student project ideas. Week 4 – Feb. 5th: The outlook of climate justice Elizabeth Peredo Beltrán, “The climate crisis, a challenge for the human condition and the ethics of nature” (La Paz, Bolivia: Solón Foundation, 2009) Paul R. Epstein, “Is Global Warming Harmful to Health?” Scientific American, August 2000 Praful Bidwai, “Climate change, equity and development: India’s dilemmas,” from What Next?: Climate, Development and Equity (Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, 2012) Brian Tokar, “Movements for Climate Justice,” from the Routledge Handbook of the Climate Change Movement (Just published) Hilary Moore & Josh Kahn-Russell, “Climate Justice” and “Find Your Frontline,” from Organizing Cools the Planet (2011) Week 5 – Feb. 12th: Popular movements & international climate negotiations M. J. Mace, “International Treaties,” from S. Schneider, et al., Climate Change Science and Policy (pp. 221-226) Martin Khor, “Complex Implications of the Cancun Climate Conference,” Economic & Political Weekly, December 25, 2010, and “A ‘low ambition’ outcome in Doha,” from The Star (Malaysia) Pablo Solón, “Moving forward from the climate negotiation madness in Warsaw,” from Focus on the Global South Todd Stern, “The Shape of a New International Climate Agreement” (US State Department, 10/13) Danny Cullenward, “Carbon Taxes, Trading and Offsets,” from S. Schneider, et al., Climate Change Science and Policy Oscar Reyes, “What goes up must come down: Carbon trading, industrial subsidies and capital market governance,” from What Next?: Climate, Development and Equity First response paper due. 4

Optional readings: Brian Tokar, “Beyond the Copenhagen Climate Summit,” from Toward Climate Justice (Chapter 3); Larry Lohmann, “Neoliberalism and the Calculable World: The Rise of Carbon Trading,” from Upsetting the Offset (Chapter 2) Video: Excerpts from The Carbon Rush Week 6 – Feb. 19th: International voices for climate justice Johannes Kruse, “Reframing Climate Change: the Cochabamba conference and global climate politics,” from the Routledge Handbook of the Climate Change Movement Matthias Dietz, “Debates and conflicts in the climate movement,” from the Routledge Handbook! Patrick Bond, “Repaying Africa for Climate Crisis: ‘Ecological Debt’ as a Development Finance Alternative to Emissions Trading,” from Upsetting the Offset (Chapter 24) Raquel Nuñez and GenderCC, “Tree Plantations, Climate Change and Women,” from Upsetting the Offset (Chapter 8) Philip Burnham, “Climate Change and Forest Conservation: A REDD flag for Central African forest people?” from A. P. Castro, et al., eds., Climate Change and Threatened Communities Optional/Reference: World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth: People’s Agreement (April 2010: for reference) Week 7 – Feb. 26th: Case study: Communities vs. coal Ted Nace, “151 Time Bombs,” “Inside the Swarm,” and “War Against the Mountains,” from Climate Hope: On the Front Lines of the Fight Against Coal Mark Hertsgaard, “How a Grassroots Rebellion Won the Nation’s Biggest Climate Victory,” Mother Jones, April 2012 Geoff Evans, “A Rising Tide: Linking Local and Global Climate Justice,” Australian Journal of Political Economy, No. 66 Optional: Sophie Cooke, “Leave it in the Ground: the Growing Global Struggle Against Coal,” from Sparking a Worldwide Energy Revolution (Chapter 36); Tricia Shapiro, Mountain Justice, chapters 3 and 6 (on reserve at the library) Videos: Recent campaigns in coal country — Spring Break: March 3 - 7th —

Week 8 – Mar. 12th: Contesting the future of energy Adam Federman, “To Drill or Not to Drill: Natural Gas Rush Forces Farmers to Choose Between Income and Land,” Earth Island Journal, March 2010 Clifford Bob, “Political Process Theory and Transnational Movements: Dialectics of Protest among Nigeria’s Ogoni Minority,” from Social Problems Vol. 48 (2002) [Optional update: Sasha Chavkin, “Shell Games in Nigeria,” from The Nation, January 2010] Mónica Vargas Collazos, “The Ecological Debt of Agrofuels,” from Sparking a Worldwide Energy Revolution (Chapter 30) Peer de Rijk/WISE, “Nuclear Energy: Relapse, Revival or Renaissance?” from Sparking a Worldwide Energy Revolution (Chapter 29) Denis Delbecq, “Global reaction against reactors,” Le Monde diplomatique, August 2011 Claire Faucet, “The techno-fix approach to climate change and the energy crisis: Issues and 5

alternatives,” from Sparking a Worldwide Energy Revolution (Chapter 25) Video: Excerpt from Tipping Point: The End of Oil Submit written proposals for class projects (1-2 pp.). Week 9 – Mar. 19th: Current campaigns: Tar sands, pipelines, and divestment S. Walsh and M. Stainsby, “The Smell of Money: Alberta’s Tar Sands,” from Sparking a Worldwide Energy Revolution (Chapter 28) Andrew Nikiforuk, “It Ain’t Oil,” and “Carbon: A Wedding and a Funeral” (excerpt), from Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent Andrew Nikiforuk, “Canadian Democracy: Death by Pipeline,” from, August 2012 Madeline Ostrander, “Transpartisan Politics on the Plains,” The Nation, Feb. 20, 2012 Bill McKibben, “Global Warming's Terrifying New Math,” Rolling Stone, August 2nd, 2012 Christian Parenti, “Problems With the Math: Is 350's Carbon Divestment Campaign Complete?” Huffington Post, November 29, 2012 Further info.: Tar sands fact sheets from NRDC and 350-VT Guest speakers from Rising Tide VT and Student Climate Culture Week 10 – Mar. 26th: Wind energy—Issues and controversies J. Kruse and P. Maegaard, “An Authentic Story About How a Local Community Became SelfSufficient in Pollution Free Energy From the Wind And Created a Source of Income for the Citizens,” from Sparking a Worldwide Energy Revolution (Chapter 21) Sergio Oceransky, “Fighting the Enclosure of Wind: Indigenous Resistance to the Privatization of the Wind Resource in Southern Mexico,” from Sparking a Worldwide Energy Revolution (Chapter 45) Charles Komanoff, “Whither Wind: A journey through the heated debate over wind power,” Orion September/October 2006 Roopali Phadke, “Resisting and Reconciling Big Wind: Middle Landscape Politics in the New American West,” Antipode Vol. 43 No. 3 (2011) Optional: Sergio Oceransky, “The Yansa Group,” from Sparking a Worldwide Energy Revol’n. (Ch. 58) Second response paper due Week 11 – Apr. 2nd: Green jobs and the energy transition Van Jones, “The Green New Deal,” from The Green Collar Economy (through page 105) Sean Sweeney, “Earth to Labor: Economic Growth is No Salvation,” New Labor Forum (CUNY), Winter 2012 Brian Kohler/ IFCEMGWU, “Just Transition Initiatives from Energy Sector Workers,” from Sparking a Worldwide Energy Revolution (Chapter 53) Rob Hopkins, “The Transition Concept” from The Transition Handbook Week 12 – Apr. 9th: Energy transitions at the local level Van Jones, “The Future is Now,” from The Green Collar Economy T. Linstroth and R. Bell, “Global Issues, Local Action” and “Achieving Results: Portland, Oregon” from Local Action 6

Panel on Vermont climate and energy policy Week 13 – Apr. 16th: Toward a solar economy Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi, “A Path to Sustainable Energy by 2030,” Scientific American, November 2009 David Schlosberg and Sara Rinfret, “Ecological Modernization, American style,” Environmental Politics, Vol. 17, No. 2, April 2008 Jeffrey Hollender, et al., “Creating a Game Plan for the Transition to a Sustainable U.S. Economy,” Solutions (UVM), Volume 1, June 2010 James Gustave Speth, “Liberalism, Environmentalism and Economic Growth,” Annual E.F. Schumacher Lecture, November 2010 Serge Latouche “How do we learn to want less? The globe downshifted,” Le Monde diplomatique, January 2006 Richard Heinberg, “The End of Growth,” from The End of Growth Week 14 – Apr. 23rd What kind of future? Naomi Klein, “Capitalism vs. the Climate,” The Nation, November 9, 2011 F. Magdoff and J. B. Foster, excerpt from “Can Capitalism Go Green?” (pp. 95-107), from What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know about Capitalism Brian Tokar, “On utopian aspirations in the climate movement,” from Toward Climate Justice (excerpts) Week 15 – April 30th: Student presentations and wrap-up All written work is due in class today. Additional readings of interest:
Bill McKibben, Eaarth: Making Life on a Tough New Planet Elizabeth Kolbert, Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature and Climate Change James Lawrence Powell, The Inquisition of Climate Science Eric Pooley, The Climate War: True Believers, Power Brokers, and the Fight to Save the Earth Brian Tokar, Earth for Sale: Reclaiming Ecology in the Age of Corporate Greenwash Tom Wilber, Under the Surface: Fracking, Fortunes and the Fate of the Marcelllus Shale Theda Skocpol, Naming the Problem: What It Will Take to Counter Extremism and Engage Americans in the Fight against Global Warming (available from Amory Lovins, Reinventing Fire CornerHouse, Energy Alternatives: Surveying the Territory (available from

Some useful websites:, (Climate scientists’ blog) (Indigenous Enviro. Network) (World Rainforest Movement) (Third World Network)