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Alternative minor equivalent: Ecology, Migration and Tolerance: Limits to cooperation?

30 April 2021

Since the course descriptions for the minor equivalent Ecology, Migration and Tolerance: Limits to cooperation? will not be visible in the e-prospectus until June, while student will probably make the choice for their Elective Space before that, please find a description of the courses below. You can only enrol for these courses as a complete package as a way of doing your Elective Space. You can enrol by sending an email to our administration osz-admin-thehague@hum.leidenuniv.nl, indicating the title of the package you would like to do (see here for more alternative packages). Limited places are available.

Ecology, Migration and Tolerance: Limits to cooperation?

Many of the most acute problems we face today are of a global nature: they transcend national boundaries, they put the future of humanity at peril, and they can be addressed only through international cooperation. However, what can international cooperation deliver? Is it possible to come together and address in a sustainable manner looming ecological crises, concerns about social justice, and economic well-being?

This minor equivalent addresses these questions from multiple vantage points. It discusses the overall top-down perspective of large intergovernmental organizations such as the UN, which tries to achieve good governance based on principles of sustainable human development. However, how realistic is sustainable development in the light of the urgency of the climate crisis? What are the accomplishments and shortcomings of large intergovernmental organizations with regard to issues such as ecological and migrant crises and increasing intolerance? In light of the above considerations, what are people's responses to social and environmental challenges? What perspectives does a bottom-up approach through contemporary social movements offer?

The four courses that constitute this minor offer in-depth investigations into these themes and related issues from a multidisciplinary perspective. Together, they assess the opportunities as well as limitations of successful international cooperation in the face of today’s major global challenges.

1.Challenges to Internationalism: The evolution of the United Nations. - Helen Steele (5 EC - 200 level)

The sustainable development goals launched by the United Nations in 2015 were envisaged to meet contemporary and future global challenges and provide a powerful indication of what our collective human development could look like. This course proposes to bring a historical perspective to students’ understanding of the role of the UN and its contribution to contemporary issues of global governance. In order to understand how the institution may continue to adapt it is pertinent to examine the development of international cooperation, particularly in the areas of international stability, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and human rights. Using the lens of the various agencies within the UN system to examine issues of sustainability allows for a transnational perspective on such global challenges.

The course will begin with an introduction to the origins of the UN and the historical and political forces that shaped it in the post-45 era. Tension between nationalism and internationalism is at the heart of the UN’s history and this will be investigated. To what extent did the cooperation forged during wartime continue to influence the development of ideals? How did the postwar decolonization movements challenge the remnants of ‘imperial vision’ inherent in the new institution? In the Cold War context, how dominant were Western foreign policy aims? The significance of the UN as a historical site for examining intersecting fields of postcolonialism, social movements, population, gender equality, international relations, and environmentalism will be considered.

The course will then focus on a number of case studies intended to explore contemporary challenges faced by UN agencies in more depth. Cases may include: humanitarian relief measures in the immediate postwar years as a ‘testing ground’ for international cooperation, the development of human rights, challenges to international collaboration in response to pressures of repatriation and resettlement, initiatives to safeguard cultural heritage, the development and implementation of a global environmental agenda, and food security. Discussion of individuals associated with the various initiatives will allow for an integration of personal perspectives and recognition of both central and peripheral developments.

This course engages with the following themes of the BAIS curriculum:

• International Order and Disorder: global governance, development, war and peace

• Social Justice and Human Rights: cultural diversity, civil liberties, migration and refugees

• Environment and Society: climate change, public health

Assessment methods: Peer review activity, case study paper

2. Political Economy of Ecological Crisis - Elisa Da Vià (10 EC - 300 level)

In the last decades, the planet has been heating dangerously fast, there is now more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than at any time in millions of years, and scientists estimate that more than 1 billion people will become environmental refugees by 2050 due to degradation of vital natural services--aquifers, watershed, farmland, forests, coastal ecosystems--growth of pollution, and downstream dumping of waste.1 As we approach the convergence of peak oil, peak water, peak population growth and abrupt climate change, those least responsible for environmental degradation tend to be the most exposed to its negative effects.

This course examines the transformations in global political economy that have propelled the convergence of multiple ecological crises: from environmental degradation and resource depletion, to resource conflicts and human displacement, mass species extinction, and anthropogenic climate change. Investigating historical and contemporary processes of global economic restructuring, this course focuses on capitalism as both an economic/social system and an ecological regime, premised on the progressive incorporation of non-human nature as a commodity and the object of managerial knowledge.

At the heart of this investigation is the question of social power: who has it, why and how is it used? The course is based on the understanding that patterns of resources access and use, technological development, and socio-ecological transformation are always socially and historically constituted, through uneven, power-laden dynamics. The course thus looks at how and why certain ways of organizing and producing nature-society interactions become dominant (while others become marginalized or excluded), with which uneven socio-economic impacts.

To answer these questions, this course addresses different approaches to the political economy of the environment, including Environmental and Ecological Economics, along with EcoMarxist, Ecofeminist, Post-growth and Decolonial perspectives. Students will apply these perspectives to examine specific case studies (by means of secondary sources as well as field trips): land and food security, waste production and management, deforestation and extractivism, privatization of public space, gentrification through eviction and slum growth, capital encroachment and expansion of zoonotic diseases, etc. Correspondingly, the course puts special emphasis on the strengths and weaknesses of contemporary responses to these crises (from technological fixes like geo-engineering, gene-modification and assisted evolution to regulatory mechanisms and grassroots approaches to decarbonize economies), illuminating the distributional effects of different forms of environmental governance, as

well new and imaginative ways of conceptualizing nature/society relationships to avoid ecosystem collapse.

The course engages with the following themes of the BAIS curriculum:

• Social Justice and Human Rights: environmental racism, environmental justice, land rights, the commons and commoning, indigenous rights, rights of nature.

• Environment and Society: ecological/climate crisis, capitalism and nature, development and sustainability, growth and post-growth, solidarity/regenerative economies, economies of care.

• Technology and Society: capitalism and technological development, techno-dependency and technological fixes, citizen science, innovation for sustainability.

• Systems of Belief and Religion: environmental imaginaries, utilitarianism, eco-centrism, post-materialism, cultural meanings of nature.

• International Order and Disorder: environmental governance, bio-political and territorial conflict, ecological imperialism, international politics of climate change.

Assessment methods: Short written assignments (which could include film reviews, reader reports, policy briefs, field notes and reflections), research proposal (oral presentation), research paper

3. Migrations and Tolerance in a Globalised World - Jovan Pesalj & Jochem van den Boogert (10 EC - 200 level)

It would be difficult to imagine our increasingly interconnected world without a continuous flow of goods, information, services, technology, capital and cultural influences between different countries. While these cross-border flows are seen as a necessity, the free movement of people across national borders is often perceived as problematic and remains unregulated internationally. Moreover, within societies of origin and destination human diversity raises issues of integration and tolerance. In this course, we examine how human migrations, together with the spread of ideas and beliefs can bring individual societies and the international community together but also set them apart.

Can cross-border migrations, which play such a powerful and transformational role in both origin and destination societies, remain unregulated on the international level? Students will engage with this issue as follows:

• A theoretical and historical introduction to migrations: Why do people move? What are major historical and contemporary trends? We will consider push factors such as conflict, poverty and environmental change.

• Major policy debates today: What role do migrations play in economic and technological progress? How do they impact the labour market? How do migrations help create more diverse societies and cultures? And to what extent do they contribute to the sustainability of societies and economies?

Intricately related to the theme of migrations is that of human plurality in origin and destination countries, and more specifically how societies ensure that differences between communities and individuals do not stand in the way of peaceful, harmonious coexistence. The focus here will be on religious tolerance. Students will explore this topic in the following steps:

• In-depth analysis of liberal secularism, which today is the most dominant theory on and policy-tool for religious tolerance. Both the historical roots of liberal secular theory and its limitations will be discussed.

• A global perspective on religious violence and intolerance by analysing several case studies from different regions of the globe. The ensuing comparison provides substance for the analysis of the limitations inherent to the liberal secular model of tolerance.

• A consideration of alternatives to the dominant model. Are there different ways in which societies have safeguarded human flourishing from the perils of intolerance?

The course covers political, historical, and cultural perspectives.

This course engages with the following themes of the BAIS curriculum:

• Social Justice and Human Rights: cultural diversity, racism, migrations, refugees.

• Environment and Society: climate change, public health

• Technology and Society: labour markets, popular culture

• Systems of Belief and Religion: Identity, Ideology, Nationalism, Fundamentalism

• International Order and Disorder: Conflict, War and Peace, Terrorism

Assessment method: Final Exam

4. Course: Politics from Below: Protests and Social Movements - Teodora Gaidyte (5 EC - 200 level)

This course aims to provide the students a theoretical framework and empirical background on how people act collectively to promote or to resist social and environmental change. By joining together, individuals can work to transform social values or norms, establish collective identities, change laws, and prevent businesses from running as usual. Social movements have become one of the major avenues of political expression in contemporary societies. Studying social movements gives a bottom-up perspective to the interaction between global institutions, state governments and individuals on the one hand, and draws on the relationship between the society and the larger natural environment on the other.

Throughout this course, students will acquire an understanding of social movements by examining why people join social movements, how social movements develop and how effective they are in achieving particular goals in national and global politics. The students will be familiarized with the theories about social movements, the interaction of social movements with political actors, and how our understanding of social movements has changed over time. Moreover, we will acknowledge the vast impact of social media and the digital age on association and communication within social movements and between them and different actors.

Drawing on the broader set of sustainable development goals of the United Nations, the course also examines (new) social movements that share fundamental characteristics across different regions. A special focus in this course is given to environmental social movements. We will explore why and how people engage in collective actions in reaction to environmental concerns such as climate change, the extraction of natural resources, and rights-based frameworks for the environment. Next to it, other social movements will be considered, including pro-democracy, civil and minority rights movements, women’s movements and protests against poverty and inequality, such as Black Lives Matter, Occupy, and the Arab Spring.

Finally, counter-movements will also be taken into account, such as anti-environmentalism, climate change skepticism, mobilization of the radical right as a response to the left-wing social movements (for instance, anti-immigration protests of Pegida). The course will end with a critical reflection on different factors in play why the protests emerge, how they travel across national borders, and how they (may) bring about social and environmental change.

This course engages with the following themes of the BAIS curriculum:

• Social Justice and Human Rights: pro-democracy, minority rights, (gender) equality

• Environment and Society: environmentalism, collective actions in response to climate change

• Technology and Society: social media

• Systems of Belief and Religion: identity, ideology, post-materialist values

Assessment method: Midterm (50%), Final Exam (50%)

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