Political Ecology - Land Use and Natural Resources in a Local to Global Perspective, 15 credits

About the education

Land use, natural resource use, provisioning and sustainable development must be analyzed from several perspectives; where the social, cultural economic, and ecological are increasingly being included. Equally central, but less often acknowledged, are issues of power and political systems, and the processes in time and space that affect them. Is the market economy a stimulus for local agricultural development? Does it promote a sustainable use of natural resources? Or is it a threat to local provisioning and security? How is income from agriculture distributed within society, e.g. between men and women, and between urban and rural areas? Who owns the rights and/or the power to define what is a sustainable versus a non-sustainable use of natural resources? Researchers in developed countries? The UN? A local political elite? Local communities? These and many other topical and future key issues are dealt with within political ecology.

The course covers the use of land and other natural resources at local to global scales, from both a theoretical and a practical perspective. The theoretical block presents the emergence and development of political ecology within research, and includes comparisons with other scientific perspective on land use and natural resource management (e.g. geographic landscape analysis and resilience theory). Another key element of the course is case studies, where examples of local communities' use of land and water resources are analyzed both from a physical and human geographical perspective. The character, causes and effects of changes in natural resource utilization are discussed and problematized – especially in a political-ecological perspective, but also in relation to other scientific theoretical schools. Special focus is on social change and ecological dynamics, and how they interact through time and over space. Current environmental issues are problematized and critically analyzed in relation to complexity, local contexts, historical conditions, power relations, and the ongoing process of globalization. The course also contains presentation of, and some practice in, commonly used political-ecological research methods with emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches. Central here is a critically self-reflective application of methods to analyze bio-physical data as well as socially constructed categorizations.

The course provides skills highly relevant in a dynamic and growing multi-disciplinary research focus, where political ecology is discussed in relation to parallel scientific perspectives. The course provides knowledge about natural resource management in relation to a problematization of key issues pertaining to environmental processes and provisioning. The course moreover provides insights into environmental, historical and social conditions of importance for sustainable natural resource use at different scale levels. The course finally gives exercise in applying political-ecological theories and methods for the analysis of land use issues.

Subject: Geography

The subject of the world!

Geographers are involved in community planning in aspects concerned with climatic change, flood risk and storm damage, as well as with developmental issues such as innovations in farming, city expansion, health matters and refugees. Work areas are to be found both in Sweden and abroad (SIDA, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Red Cross, Swedish Rescue Services Agency, etc.). As the impact of human induced changes to our environment becomes more and more intrusive, the geographer’s role takes on a new and important dimension. Geographers contribute to planning future communities and are key participants in the creation of a sustainable future for people on the regional, national and global planes. The discipline Geography encompasses environmental and social questions that are linked to world’s diversity of municipal and rural environments, populations, and living conditions. Geography is a science that since the time of the ancient Greeks has aimed to describe, analyse and explain the earth as the human habitat. Man’s living conditions and environment are largely dependent on whereabouts on the surface of the earth he lives, and there are clear connections between the differing development patterns of different societies and the surrounding natural environment and its exploitation. Knowledge of the connections and interplay between humankind, socio-cultural development and the natural environment constitutes the core of the discipline Geography. As a result of increasing globalisation in interdisciplinary research, business, international trade and economics, tourism, land management and environmental work, education and the mass media, geographical skills are in high demand. There is furthermore a substantial increase in the use of geographic information systems (GIS) and methods of investigation that require the use of satellite imagery and aerial photography (remote sensing).

Area of interest: Science and Mathematics

Science and mathematics help us understand how the world around us is connected – from the origin and structure of the universe, to the development and function of humanity and all other organisms on earth.

Scientific knowledge makes it possible to critically examine the credibility of information in different areas of everyday life, society, and the media.

As a scientist or mathematician, you will be attractive on a large job market that covers all parts of society and includes everything from pure technology companies to environment and healthcare, as well as research.

Department responsible for education

Department of Physical Geography