School of Environment

Political Ecologies and Environmental Justice

Political ecology and a ‘third wave’ of environmental justice research frame environmental disputes as the product of broader social, discursive and economic practices. Drawing from political economy, postcolonial, feminist and critical race theory and from the insights of complexity science and socio-ecological systems, they suggest that environmental conflicts, resource scarcity and the potential for environmental enhancement are socially constructed and are not, therefore, inherently biophysical nor local in their causation. The School’s research in this area critiques environmental management, biopolitical interventions and their socio-cultural implications for equity, Indigenous environmental claims, community capacities and public participation. We consider the feedbacks of those impacts on the implementation of environmental policy, the potential for reconciliation and the promotion of legal pluralism and sustainability. Those approaches extend to the interrogation of ‘first world political ecology’ and the multi-scalar implications of (over)consumption, affluence, modernity and corporate control. Those who work in this area are often committed ethically and methodologically to activist and community-based research, advocacy and alternative forms of representation.


Our research topics

  • Environmental management and conservation
  • Collaborative natural resource management
  • Political ecology of conservation and restoration
  • Sustainability and environmental justice
  • Indigenism, indigeneity and (post)colonialism
  • Environmental politics of Treaty settlement
  • Cultural, political and environmental geography
  • Feminist political geography
  • Children and youth geographies
  • Environmental education for sustainability
  • Historical geographies of settler societies
  • Indigenous peoples' perceptions and responses to social and environmental changes
  • Risk, resilience and climate change adaptation
  • Drivers of transformational change
  • Interaction of different knowledge systems (western scientific, Indigenous and local knowledges)
  • Sustainable development
  • Political ecology
  • Environmental governance and development
  • Science, knowledge and policy

Key staff