Ecology, Environment and Development

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSDe2SD4114

Semester and Year Offered: Winter Semester, 2nd Year

Course Coordinator and Team: Budhaditya Das (School of Human Ecology) and Silky Arora (Visiting Faculty)

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: None

Course Objectives/Description:

In what ways does ecological thinking come into conversation with discourses of developmentalism? In response to this question, this course explores the evolution and refinement of economic, cultural, political and technical conceptions of a human-centered ecology. Can ecology be seen as being independent of the human? Moreover, in what ways can one expand one’s conception of the human? The course will not only explore how debates on economy, inequality, social change and technology deeply influence the manner in which the environment and ecologies are perceived and inhabited, it will also explore the ways in which economic imperatives themselves constitute a richly contested terrain in the realm of both, humanism and environmental thinking. In the wake of four decades of environmentalism, the course will not only ask such questions as for whom must development be pursued, and for whom must the environment and existing ecological systems be conserved, it will also engage with how environment, ecology and development are differently constituted and perceived in the imagination of different human constituencies.

Going further, the course will explore the peculiar ways in which environmental politics, governance, policies, laws and practices could be attuned to respond to the needs and ethical concerns of different human constituencies enmeshed together in a broader weave of developmentalism. Taking the insights from this approach further, the course will explore specific instances and ongoing conservation-centered projects in which one can begin to sharply delineate the practices and measures entailed in foregrounding environmental well-being. In this regard, the course will explore particular projects relating to themes such as urban ecology, global warming, circular economy, pollution and biodiversity.

Course Outcomes:

On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Understand how human and non-human landscapes shape each other
  2. Identify how design is implicated in the creation of unsustainable lifestyles and irreversible damage to the environment
  3. Learn key tools and concepts to amalgamate the ‘social’ with the ‘environmental’ in critiquing the design of ‘development’

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

  • Ethics: Explores the ethical dimensions of the debate on human and non-human landscapes
  • Agency: Presents an understanding of the political economy of development
  • Social Ecology: Critiques human-nonhuman interactions
  • Political Ecology and Development: Presents perspectives on developmentalism
  • Urban Ecology and Development: This module focuses on urban issues and urban natures to rise questions on ecological aspects of urbanisation
  • Community Management Projects: This module throws the spotlight on community engagements in environmental projects and environmental movements for people’s rights.

Assessment Details with weights:

  • Assessment Weightage in %
  • Assignment 1     20
  • Assignment 2     30
  • Assignment 3     30
  • Jury                    20

Reading List:

  • Jacques Derrida and David Wills, “The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow) Critical Inquiry Vol. 28, No. 2 (Winter, 2002), pp. 369-418
  • Timothy Mitchell, Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity (Berkeley, CA: The University of California Press, 2002).
  • Roy A. Rappoport, (1967) “Ritual Regulation of Environmental Relations among a New Guinea People,” Ethnology, 6(1): 17-30
  • R.P Neumann, (1992) Political ecology of wildlife conservation in the Mt Meru area of Northeast Tanzania.” Land Degradation and Development, 3(2), 85–9
  • C.E. Ramalho, Richard Hobbs, “Time for a change: Dynamic urban ecology,” in Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Vol. 27, No. 3, 2012, p. 179 - 188.
  • Dan Brockington. “Forests, community conservation, and local government performance: The village forest reserves of Tanzania', Society and Natural Resources, vol 20,

Additional Reference:

  • Martin Heidegger, "Letter on Humanism," trans. Frank A Capuzzi with J. Glenn Gray, in Martin Heidegger: Basic Writings (New York, 1977).
  • Philip McMichael (2007) Development and Social Change Pine Forge Press.
  • Williams, Glyn, Paula Meth and Katie Willis (2009). Geographies of Developing Areas: The Global South in a changing world. Routledge.
  • Benedict J. TriaKerkvliet (2009). Everyday politics in peasant societies (and ours), The Journal of Peasant Studies, 36:1, 227-243.
  • Reinert, Eric (2008). How Rich Countries Got Rich . . . and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor. London, Constable and Robinson Ltd.
  • Norberg-Hodge, Helena (2009) Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh. California, Sierra Club Books.
  • Film: Guns, Germs and Steel. PBS documentary film, or the book by the same name
  • Film: Commanding Heights (episodes 1 to 4)
  • Rodrik, Dani. The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy. W.W. Norton, New York and London, 2011.Chapter 3.
  • Jong-Il You. 2002. The Bretton Woods Institutions: Evolution, Reform and Change. Chapter 8 in Deepak Nayyar (ed.) “Governing Globalization”. New Delhi, Oxford University Press.