Understand how climate change, biodiversity loss and deforestation affect people, exploring justice in environment management.

23,958 enrolled on this course

  • Duration

    5 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours

The world faces challenging environmental problems. They are challenging because different people typically contribute differently to environmental change, and because its effects will be felt differently by different people in different places.

Course content now available in Spanish! ¡El contenido del curso ahora está disponible en Español!

Understand environmental injustices

This free online course will help you understand how injustice is a common feature of many environmental problems. Over 5 weeks, we’ll look at deforestation, biodiversity loss, climate change and other environmental issues, asking questions such as:

● Can we manage tropical forests to increase timber revenues and carbon stocks, while ensuring that the people who live in them can fulfil their own subsistence needs and vision of a healthy ecosystem?

● How can protected areas strike the right balance between contemporary global interests in species conservation, local interests, the needs of future generations and rights of nature?

We’ll show that sustainable environmental management requires attention to justice - that we need to strike the right balance between the needs, interests, rights and aspirations of various stakeholders today, and those of both nature and future generations.

Learn with UEA’s Global Environmental Justice Group

You’ll learn with the University of East Anglia’s Global Environmental Justice Group

  • Prof Adrian Martin
  • Dr Vasudha Chhotray
  • Dr Iokine Rodriguez
  • Dr Oliver Springate-Baginski
  • Dr Nicole Gross-Camp
  • Dr Gareth Edwards
  • Dr Brendan Coolsaet
  • Dr Teresa Armijos

an interdisciplinary mix of scholars interested in the links between social justice and environmental change.

Through a series of films shot in Africa, Asia and Latin America, you’ll meet environmental activists and find out how justice can be a powerful motivator for environmental action.

You’ll share your own experiences with other learners around the world, thinking about how you can put academic theory into practice, through course discussions, quizzes and assignments.

The course will give you a taste of UEA’s MSc in Climate Change and International Development and MSc in Environment and International Development.

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  • Week 1

    Conceptions of environmental justice

    • Introducing the course

      Let's begin our exploration of environmental justice. Enjoy the introductions to the course and team, and introduce yourself to the team and other learners.

    • Why environmental justice?

      In this activity we begin to explore why environmental justice matters. We will find out how environmental justice has its roots in local struggles, but is also a movement for transformation of global issues.

    • Justice as multi-dimensional

      Adrian introduces the idea of the three dimensions of environmental justice, and we hear testimonies from environmental activists which illustrate the multi-dimensional nature of environmental justice.

    • Principles of justice

      How do we decide what is morally right? This activity explores different ways of thinking about justice, and how some conceptions of justice gain ground while others are marginalised.

    • Reflections

      We have covered a lot this week, let’s summarise, reflect on and discuss what we have learnt.

  • Week 2

    Politics of environmental justice

    • Introduction to Week 2

      This week you will learn about how environmental justice is a political issue - starting with theory, moving onto research findings, and finishing with an activist’s perspective.

    • Is justice political?

      Vasudha Chhotray explores how justice and politics are connected, and helps us analyse the effects of social discourse on different people groups.

    • Odisha case study

      Vasudha Chhotray presents results of her research in Odisha, India, to illustrate how the politics of environmental justice have played out for various actors.

    • A political activist’s perspective

      We hear a testimony from Neema Pathak-Broome, a political activist in India, who works to speak up for people who are impacted by the dominant political narrative on nature conservation.

    • Learner assignment

      Here is your opportunity to gather your thoughts on what you have learnt so far and write a short assignment. You will give and receive feedback with fellow learners.

    • Reflections

      We have covered a lot this week, let’s summarise, reflect on and discuss what we have learnt.

  • Week 3

    Local perspectives of environmental justice

    • Introduction to Week 3

      This week you will learn about the EJ Atlas, a tool for analysing environmental justice struggles, and examine how justice is related to two important issues, water and forests.

    • EJ Atlas

      Iokine Rodriguez introduces the EJ Atlas, a web-based tool which documents environmental justice struggles around the world.

    • Water justice

      Teresa Armijos Burneo describes how water injustice can be caused by power and politics, and through a case study shows that conflict can lead to transformation.

    • Forest governance from a local perspective

      Oliver Springate-Baginski identifies key issues which give rise to pervasive injustices in tropical forestry for local communities.

    • Reflections on Week 3

      We have covered a lot this week, let’s summarise, reflect on and discuss what we have learnt.

  • Week 4

    Global perspectives of environmental justice

    • Introduction to Week 4

      This week you will learn about environmental justice at the global scale. We will focus on biodiversity conservation, forest governance and climate change.

    • Biodiversity conservation

      Brendan Coolsaet explains how biodiversity is not equally distributed on our planet, and shows how the benefits arising from biodiversity have sometimes been unfairly claimed.

    • Climate justice

      Gareth Edwards examines climate change through an environmental justice lens, seeing how global policies and projects can impact communities differently.

    • Forest governance from a global perspective

      Oliver Springate-Baginski returns to look at forests, this week focussing on global pressures and policies and their impact on different peoples in different places.

    • Reflections on Week 4

      We have covered a lot this week, let’s summarise, reflect on and discuss what we have learnt.

  • Week 5

    Practical approaches to environmental justice research

    • Introduction to Week 5

      This week we shift our focus to some practical approaches that researchers have used with communities facing environmental injustices, methods designed to empower the marginalised and amplify their voices.

    • Participatory video

      Nicole Gross-Camp demonstrates the power of participatory video as a technique that a community can use to focus on an environmental injustice affecting them and use as a tool to bring about recognition.

    • Life plans

      Iokine Rodriguez Fernandez returns to explain how the life plan process can be transformative for a community which is losing sight of their traditional knowledge, territory and values.

    • End of course review

      We are nearing the end of this Environmental Justice online course. Test your understanding of the topics covered, find out how to stay connected to the Global Environmental Justice Group and options for further study with UEA.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explain the dimensions of environmental justice
  • Evaluate different ideas of justice
  • Investigate local environmental justice struggles
  • Apply an environmental justice framing to global challenges
  • Explore practical techniques to empower marginalised communities

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for people who are already working on environmental problems or are familiar with environmental issues. It seeks to address environmentalists around the world although a background on international development will be useful.

What do people say about this course?

"Thank you for putting this course together! It has been inspiring and very informative. As an environmental chemist it has been a great opportunity for me to learn more about the social and political dimensions of environmental research. "

"A sincere thank you again to the facilitators of this course, as well as all those who offered their insights in the comments section. I have found the variety of perspectives enlightening and thought-provoking...exactly what I was hoping for when I enrolled in the course. UEA now has a place in my mind for consideration of furthering my academic career. I look forward to communicating again in the future with this cohort and enrolling in future courses."

Who will you learn with?

I am a social scientist who works on issues of conservation and development and environmental justice. My research is mainly in Sub Saharan Africa

Who developed the course?

UEA (University of East Anglia)

The University of East Anglia is an internationally renowned university providing top quality academic, social and cultural facilities to over 15,000 students from over 100 countries around the globe.

Learning on FutureLearn

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  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
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Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
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  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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