Grant Wood, Young Corn

The Political Economy of Climate Change: From Green Planning to Climate Colonialism

Instructor: Max Ajl
This is an online course (Eastern Time)

Climate is now on everyone’s agenda: in the minds of some, the cause of all causes, and the movement of all movements. As it has burst across public attention, we have everywhere Green New Deals, eco-socialists, great transformations, just transitions—a constellation of concepts and plans for moving to a different world. Yet, what are the origins of the climate crisis? Can we build steel conceptual walls between climate and the broader breakdown of the non-human ecology? And what possible role can small peasants, schoolteachers, nurses, energy workers, or pastoralists play in a transition to an ecologically enduring and egalitarian world?

This course introduces students to climate and ecological debates through a range of readings and approaches: political ecology, green planning, imperialism, ecologically unequal exchange, climate colonialism and racism. Through authors from Jason Hickel to Keston Perry, Jason Moore to Archana Prasad, we will achieve several goals. One, to consider the merits and demerits of considering ourselves as living in climate crisis or a broader ecological crisis linked to capitalism. Two, to consider the role of colonialism and imperialism in producing the climate crisis. Three, to consider exit paths—to all kinds of destinations—from green fascism to green socialism, and the many hues of green and shapes of societies lying in between those sites, each the dream of some and the demon of others. We will be equipped to ask and answer: how do different planning regimes imagine the present and link it to a possible future? Can reform or revolution drive a shift to a just society? What is the role of climate debt and sovereignty in such transitions? Who are the agents and subjects of systems change? And what is the role of imperialism and North-South dynamics of exploitation and expression in any such change?

Course Schedule

Sunday, 2:00-5:00pm ET
March 12 — April 02, 2023
4 weeks


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