“The Jadaliyya Environment Page is a forum for innovative, critical, and incisive analysis and reporting on environmental questions in the Middle East. It invites contributors and readers to rethink these questions by taking a broad stance on what counts as an environmental issue. Whereas environmental questions in the Middle East are usually framed in terms the security of water or oil, this page purposefully seeks out a wide array of sources and perspectives in examining important environmental issues on the ground and across the region. As curators of this Jadaliyya project, we want to provide a platform that brings together diverse perspectives including, and especially, from those living in the region, indigenous voices, and grassroots approaches. “
The launch page features, among others, articles on Smallpox in Monarchiq Iraq, a wind energy project in the Syrian Golan Heights and environmental racism in Palestine – the general picture, that Israel and Palestine are the sites where most research on environmental issues (from a social science perspective) is undertaken – is apparent here too. But as the new page is calling for more contributions, the geographic and temporal perspective might become wider.
Since I wrote a first post about flying in academia almost a year ago, the discussion has spread widely. We have started to collect ideas on how to make our own research more climate-friendly, in my own institution and among researchers from the social science and humanities in Berlin. In this debate it has been helpful and inspiring what other institutions and people do or try out. I present here some links, blog posts and articles related to this debate and the points they are making.
People in academia (who) fly less
There are several movements of researchers worldwide declaring that they will stop flying or fly less. Apart from the Commitment not to fly for less than 1000 km that over 4000 scientists from Germany, Austria and Switzerland have signed (and that also calls for a change in federal law concerning the reimbursement of travel costs!), there are similar movements in the other parts of the world.
Seit Dezember streiken in Frankreich weite Teile der Arbeiter:innen und Angestellten, von der Bahn über die Schulen bis zu Museen und Operhäusern. Der Protest richtet sich gegen die Rentenreform von Präsident Emmanuel Macron, der sich bisher geweigert hat, die Reform aufzugeben und nur zu einzelnen Zugeständnissen bereit war.
Angesichts der heftigen Mobilisierung gegen die Rentenreform ist weitgehend untergegangen, dass die französische Regierung auch ein neues Forschungsgesetz vorbereitet: Dieses soll die Wissenschaft “wettbewerbsfähiger” machen, will heißen liberalisieren und flexibilisieren. Anders als in Deutschland oder Großbritannien, wo die Universitäts- und Forschungslandschaft bereits in den letzten zwei Dekaden komplett umgekrempelt und zusammengespart wurde, und prekäre Verhältnisse insbesondere für Nachwuchswissenschafter:innen heute die Norm sind, sind in Frankreichs Wissenschaftssystem bisher unbefristete Verträge und die Grundfinanzierung der Forscher:innen die Norm.
“As energy politics remains a contested issue in the Mediterranean Basin, what political ecologies and future environments are emerging in the region? Can cooperation over renewable energies offer potential solutions? What are climate change and justice scenarios for different countries in the Basin? The first annual multidisciplinary conference on Mediterranean Studies is organized to encourage critical reflection around the encounters of overlapping energy and environment crisis in the Mediterranean Basin from economical, political and social perspectives.”
Proposals for presentation can be submitted until 15 February 2020, more information on the conference website.
I recently came across the Political Ecology reading list Julian Bloomer shared on the blog Undisciplined Environments. Though from 2016 and thus missing the latest publications, this may be of great help to all preparing courses or looking for an overview of the most important publications in the fields. As most of the literature mentioned is in english, it might be interesting in the long term to add more publications in other languages…
The Center for Near and Middle Eastern Studies (CNMS), Philipps University Marburg, is organizing a symposium on climate change and disasters in cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, with a focus on Iran.
The aim of the conference, according to the invitation, is to provide a venue for presenting and discussing “cutting-edge research in natural resource management”, and to study how climate change and natural disasters (e.g., drought, floods, sand storms, earthquakes etc) affect economies and political systems in the MENA region.
“How quality of political, economic,and financial institutions may moderate the economic and human costs of climate change and disasters? What are the latest technical developments in dealing with climate change and disasters? What are the policy lessons from the rest of the world?”
ASLE, the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, has created a useful online database for teaching resources (syllabus, texts…) where people can find inspiration for their classes but also upload and share their resources with other lecturers:
Just a few days left until the deadline for abstracts: a workshop in Barcelona bringing together social science research on climate change and conservation, Institute of Environmental Science and Technology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB), 29-30 October 2019:
In June 2019, the EnJust network – a new network dealing with questions of environmental justice – organized its first workshop on “Narratives and Practices of Environmental Justice” in Kiel, Germany (see a report here). Now, the call for the next meeting in 2020 is out:
“Bridging research, policy and activism for environmental justice in times of crises”
Freiburg, Germany, 27 –29 May 2020, organized by the Institute of Environmental Social Sciences and Geography, University of Freiburg, and the EnJust Network for Environmental Justice. Find the full CfP here.
Flying in academia and the climate crisis – english version here
Seit bald einem Jahr streiken jeden Freitag Schüler*innen für mehr Klimaschutz – das hat auch in der Wissenschaftslandschaft einiges ins Rollen gebracht. Auch Wissenschaftler*innen haben begonnen, die eigenen Strukturen in Bezug auf Klimaschutz zu hinterfragen – auch, wenn es ums Fliegen geht.
Wissenschaftler*innen gehören zu denjenigen, die viel fliegen, mehr noch als andere Gutverdiener. Wer in einem internationalen Forschungsumfeld arbeitet, wo Konferenzen auch mal in China, den USA oder Australien stattfinden, fliegt auch mal für wenige Tage Tausende von Kilometern, um einen Vortrag zu halten oder anzuhören. Und das wird nicht nur bezahlt, sondern erwartet – von Institutionen, die stolz sind auf ihre Internationalität, von künftigen Arbeitgeber*innen, die internationale Vernetzung erwarten.
Since almost a year students are demonstrating every Friday for actions adressing global warming. This has led to the creation of new networks, like Scientists for Future (S4F), supporting this movement, but also to new discussion within academia about our own climate impact.
CO2 emmissions are directly related to income, and those working in acadamia certainly belong to the ones flying much more than the average employee. Especially those who are working in an international research environment, conferences taking place in Italy, in China, the USA, Australia, will often fly overseas just to hold a talk or attend a conference. Longtime, this was not really questioned, on the contrary many universities encouraged their staff to present and travel abroad, to foster the ‘internationalization’ of the university. Even universities who praise themselves as eco-friendyl or even carbon neutral, like the university of Lüneburg, often excluded the flights of their staff from their calculations, or, simply ‘neutralized’ them with buying offsets (a method that, as many studies have shown, is not just not working, but also has deteriorating effects in countries of the global south – apart from being part highly problematic in term of environmental justice).
The Forschungswerkstatt Kritische Geographie/Critical Geography Research Workshop took place in Berlin this year, june 14-16 – and we participated with a workshop entitled “Critical Geography and New Materialism”. To our surprise there was a huge interest in the workshop – we had to change the room for the salon to be able to host all the participants. As a first round of questions showed that many were generally interested, but did not have a lot of pre-knowledge, we started with a basic introduction: What is ‘critical geography’ about? And what is ‘new materialism’?