This program is currently enrolling for spring 2021.
Please see our list of available and modified programs for fall 2020.

IHP Climate Change

The Politics of Land, Water & Energy Justice

Witness the causes and social impacts of climate change and examine possibilities for local and global environmental justice at three sites.

At a Glance




Relevant previous coursework recommended

Courses taught in



Sep 14 ‎– Dec 22

Program Countries

United States, Chile

Program Base

United States (California and Puerto Rico) and Chile (Valparaíso)

Critical Global Issue of Study

Climate & Environment

Climate & Environment Icon

Development & Inequality

Development & Inequality Icon


Why Study Climate Change?

Visit key sites in northern California, Puerto Rico, and Chile to learn about the complexities of climate change through the lens of environmental justice. Through both classroom and field-based inquiry, examine the systemic causes and impacts of climate change and develop the ability to critically analyze the politics of mitigation and adaptation strategies. See first-hand how social relations of power shape the ways environmental change impacts communities in socially differentiated forms. Learn how to critically interrogate the politics of knowledge at the science-policy interface of climate action and debate the appropriate roles of government, business, social movements, and individuals in addressing the climate crisis. Over the course of eight weeks traveling in the U.S. and seven weeks in Chile, engage with in-country academics and professionals, public servants and policy makers, and civil society actors such as NGO managers, union members, activists, and social movement leaders. A significant component of this learning experience will entail excursions to sites of land, food, water, and/or energy conflicts, as well as to sites of resistance to the status quo and socio-environmental transformation toward just and sustainable futures.

Explore a Day in the Life of an IHP student!


  • Meet climate justice movement activists in California fighting for social change.
  • Examine the nexus of food, water, and energy systems and envision working for a sustainable future.
  • Learn about grassroots collective action in Puerto Rico forging a "just recovery" from climate disaster.
  • Visit indigenous communities in Chile resisting large-scale development to protect their water and food sovereignty.


None, although previous coursework in political science, economics, and/or environmental science is recommended.

Program Sites

United States: San Francisco

(4 weeks)

In San Francisco, immerse yourself in one of the world’s most vibrant places for activism and social change. Begin to explore climate change through the framework of environmental justice, understanding race, class, and gender as key social determinants of vulnerability to climate impacts. After gaining foundational knowledge on the science of climate change, U.S. and California climate policies, and global climate change negotiations, learn from activists, youth climate strikers, grassroots movements, and innovative non-profits working at the forefront of the climate justice movement.

Puerto Rico

(4 weeks)

Examine how the legacy of colonialism shapes environmental injustices and exacerbates the challenges Puerto Ricans face from climate change in the context of economic hardship and fiscal austerity. Learn from researchers, community organizers, and nonprofits working toward food justice, energy sovereignty, and more equitable water management in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Through community organizing, mutual aid, solidarity brigades, and other forms of collective action, Puerto Rico offers an intimate look at ways people are resisting disaster capitalism and fighting for sovereignty over land, food, water, and energy resources.


(7 weeks)

In Chile, meet with social movement leaders to learn how climate justice activism is linked to recent protests against inequality and demands for a new Constitution reinstating water resources’ public status. Visit with indigenous communities affected by mining and dams threatening their land and traditional water use and learn about their perspectives on decolonization, food sovereignty, and the “solidarity economy.” Discuss and envision a world where traditional cultural knowledge and indigenous epistemologies shape the way we work for a more just and sustainable future.

Please note that SIT will make every effort to maintain its programs as described. To respond to emergent situations, however, SIT may have to change or cancel programs.



Access virtual library guide.

The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term. The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Please expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.

Key Topics

  • The links between climate change, social and environmental justice, and the legacies of colonialism
  • The importance of place, race, class, gender, and culture in understanding climate impacts
  • The roles of government, civil society, grassroots movements, and individual action for social change in the climate crisis
  • Combining new technologies, old traditions, and forms of collective action to create sustainable futures
  • The tensions and contradictions between immediate action and fighting for long-term systemic change

The Science and Policy of Climate Change

The Science and Policy of Climate Change – syllabus
(ENVI3010 / 4 credits)

This course unpacks the basic science of the climate system by examining the state-of-the-art science collated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and through regular engagement with scientists and researchers. The course also aims to critically engage with the science/policy interface. Students examine local, regional, and national mitigation and adaptation strategies as a matter of social policy, and learn about environmental governance mechanisms at local and regional levels, national climate policy frameworks, and global climate change negotiations. They also learn to analyze the multiple discourses on climate change that circulate in national and global policy circuits.

Political Economy and Environmental Change since 1492

Political Economy and Environmental Change since 1492 – syllabus
(ECON3010 / 4 credits)

This course analyzes the development and history of modern capitalism on a global scale. Topics of consideration within this context include state formation, war, imperialism, technology, energy, environmental change, economic crisis, and “long waves of accumulation.” There is a particular focus on post–World War II developments, including the rise of Keynesianism globally; the role of socialist economies; the political economy of the Cold War; Third World development; the global crisis of profitability in the 1970s, the resultant economic restructuring, and the turn toward neoliberalism; the acceleration of neoliberalism and its deepening crisis; and the possibility of alternative economic models.

Comparative Issues in Food, Water, and Energy

Comparative Issues in Food, Water, and Energy – syllabus
(SDIS3070 / 4 credits)

This course looks at land, agriculture, water, and energy systems, and the attendant resources upon which these sectors depend. Students visit farms, fishing communities, powerplants, water management sites, and more while examining the political ecology of natural resource sectors using case studies and place-based analysis. Excursions and fieldwork will complement detailed studies of these resource sectors to experience, observe, and understand more concretely the multi-scalar impacts of regional and global forces on the landscapes, communities and economies of California, Vietnam, Morocco and Bolivia.

Fieldwork Ethics and Comparative Research Methods

Fieldwork Ethics and Comparative Research Methods – syllabus
(ANTH3500 / 4 credits)

This course enables students to understand and benefit from field-based learning processes. It provides students with skills related to gathering, analyzing, and interpreting information from a range of sources, maximizing the knowledge provided by local contexts. The course intends to assist students in assessing their own cultural assumptions and in understanding people from different cultures. Students are familiarized with the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review Policy. The seminar provides a framework for a qualitative research project involving data collection and comparative analysis to be undertaken in each of the countries visited.

Homestays / Housing

Homestays / Housing

Students accommodations include a mix of hostels, guesthouses, small hotels/dorms and homestays.


Career Paths

Recent positions held by alumni of this program include:

  • Research assistant for the United Nations, conducting work in Ecuador

  • Truman Scholarship recipient, continuing research at the postgraduate level

  • Fulbright recipients, returning to work in the countries the program visits

  • Intern at EcoPeace Middle East, Amman, Jordan

Faculty & Staff

IHP Climate Change: The Politics of Land, Water & Energy Justice

The faculty/staff team shown on this page is a sample of the individuals who may lead your specific program. Faculty and coordinators are subject to change to accommodate each program’s unique schedule and locations.

Nicolas Stahelin, EdD
Program Director
Anna Gail Caunca, MA
Program Manager
Sarah White, PhD Candidate
Launch Coordinator

Discover the Possibilities


    SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.

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    Explore a Day in the Life of an IHP student!

    Learn More