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GEOG 3115

Geographies of Equality and Social Justice

  • Credits: 3
  • Level: Undergraduate, Year 3
  • Semester: 2
  • Status: Elective course for BSc/BA major (Geography) and BSc Geography.
  • Pre-requisites: GEOG 1901; or GEOG 1131,and GEOG 1132,or HOD permission.
  • Course coordinator:Dr. Levi Gahman

Course coverage

Liberal versus welfare theories, geographies of responsibility, geographies of inclusion and exclusion, global and local social movements, representational/non-representational theories in human geography, environmental justice


The main rationale of this class is to provide an introduction to geographical aspects of social justice and to examine how these issues play out at a number of interconnected geographic scales (local, regional, state and international). Geographical study is a vital aspect of social justice concerns because rather than solely being abstract conceptions, social justice issues take shape in (and are shaped by) the concrete places in which they play out. This course develops some key issues covered in Level II Geographies of Development, particularly dominant and alternative perspectives on distribution, markets and welfare and discursive and other approaches to understanding spatial and social relationships. It provides a fundamental grounding for further exploration into the geographies of inclusion and exclusion and into the ways environmental and social privileges become embedded in wider discourses of market economies. The course contributes to students' understanding of normative and material-environmental processes, and uncovers the ethical dimensions of qualitative research. It introduces advanced knowledge, ideas, theories and concepts related to issues of social justice and economic and environmental responsibility between privileged and unprivileged groups, often separated in time and space.

Course description

The course is designed to provide advanced understanding of issues relating to social justice, political economy, borders, belonging, social exclusion, and environmental degradation. It draws together elements of theory and practice to present debates about empire, social conflict, ecological destruction, decolonization, exploitation, privilege, and structural violence. It also explores notions of self-reflexivity, positionality, and solidarity through a variety of radical perspectives. The course begins with an overview of the concepts of supremacy, hegemony, hierarchy, biopolitics, and oppression, as well as theories of praxis, mutual aid, and resistance. Following these discussions, the course will examine issues and phenomena related to the Global North-South divide, political corruption, neoliberal capitalism, class elitism, social ecology, environmental racism, food systems, gender justice, racial othering, heteronormativity, cultural conflict, and disability studies/ableism. The course content and case studies reveal the central contribution that geographers can make in understanding and effecting socio-spatial justice in a complex, interconnected, and rapidly changing world.

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