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IHP Climate Change

The Politics of Land, Water & Energy Justice

Witness the causes and social-ecological impacts of climate change across four continents and examine possibilities for local and global environmental justice.

At a Glance

Credits

16

Prerequisites

Relevant previous coursework recommended

Courses taught in

English

Dates

Jan 31 – May 14

Program Countries

Ecuador, Morocco, Nepal, United States

Program Base

USA, Morocco, Nepal, Ecuador

Critical Global Issue of Study

Climate & Environment

Development & Inequality

Overview

Why a Comparative Study of Climate Change?

Explore some of the world’s most productive and vulnerable landscapes to witness how climate change impacts regions differently and how communities are responding to the climate crisis. In four cultural and socio-ecological contexts, you’ll analyze the challenges of working toward more equitable food, water, and energy systems. Examine the problems and possible solutions with researchers, farmers, activists, social entrepreneurs, non-governmental organizations, and policymakers.

In Morocco, you’ll meet farmers striving to modernize their agricultural practices and understand how the country, which has few fossil fuels, is embracing renewable energy. In Nepal, you will be uniquely located in a country that is vulnerable to climate change but has numerous initiatives to tackle this global challenge. The course here will offer a chance to interact with experts, communities, and institutions across the country, and to participate in a guided trek in Nepal’s famed mountains to witness firsthand the accelerating impacts of climate change. In Ecuador, you will explore resilience strategies in and around Quito and travel to the Amazon Basin to understand the threats of climate change and the efforts to conserve unique marine and island ecosystems.

Explore a Day in the Life of an IHP student!

Photos on this page may depict program sites from previous semesters. Please view the Program Sites section of this page to see where this program will travel.

Highlights

  • Meet climate justice movement activists in California fighting for social change.
  • See how energy and agriculture policy impact local communities in Morocco.
  • Examine the complex nexus of food, water, and energy systems in Nepal.
  • Experience the unique biodiversity of the Amazon Basin and learn about the ongoing efforts to protect it.

Prerequisites

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

program map

Program Sites

United States: San Francisco, California

(10 days)

Starting in the San Francisco Bay Area, study environmental justice and how race, class, and gender are key social determinants of vulnerability to climate impacts. Meet activists involved in the climate justice movement and delve into U.S. federal climate policy and the history of global climate change diplomacy. Consider the fossil fuel industry’s impacts on low-income communities in the East Bay and learn about urban food justice efforts.

Morocco: Rabat, Casablanca, Marrakech

(4+ weeks)

In the port city of Rabat, Morocco’s capital and diplomatic center, examine the complex social and political issues facing this country on the front lines of climate change. Travel to the Atlas Mountains, where you will visit a community working to preserve its local water source and meet with farmers striving to modernize their small-scale agricultural practices. You will visit an organic farm training center near Marrakech, and in Ouarzazate, you will learn about the one of the largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plants in the world.

Nepal: Kathmandu, The Langtang Valley, Terai

(4+ weeks)

With a predominantly agrarian society in fragile mountain ecosystems, Nepal has one of the highest climate change vulnerability profiles in the world. You will develop your understanding of the region’s mountain people, their livelihoods, and the relevance of Himalayan ethnic identities and language endangerment to matters of equity and environmental security. You will learn about the biophysical and socioeconomic impacts that melting glaciers, shifting rainfall patterns, droughts, and floods are having on both highland and downstream agrarian communities. You will also examine how Nepal’s relationship to the global climate financing mechanism affects its climate policies focusing on adaptation and transition to a low-carbon economy.

Ecuador: Andes Mountains, Quito, and the Amazon Basin

(4+ weeks)

Ecuador is home to four distinct ecological and geographical regions with specific climate change impacts and vulnerabilities: the Pacific coast, the Andes Highlands, and the Amazon rainforest. In Quito, explore resilience strategies related to water scarcity, energy sovereignty, and land conflict, and consider how these topics intersect with challenges brought about by climate change.  Visit the Amazon Basin, where you will learn how climate change is impacting one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. In Baños de Agua Santa, visit volcano-warmed thermal baths and hike to a nearby waterfall as you reflect on the past semester during the program’s final retreat.

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.

Academics

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the program, students will be able to: 

  • Explain the basic science of climate change and its impacts at global and regional scales. 
  • Describe how colonization, industrialization, capitalism, and neoliberal globalization have contributed to the unprecedented growth of carbon (and other GHG) emissions. 
  • Clarify the role of science and technology in providing solutions to climate change, but also the limitations of technical fixes or purely technological approaches. 
  • Assess the role of the state, markets, and civil society, including social movements, in the production and management of natural resources, and in environmental governance more broadly. 
  • Recognize the complex interplay between local, national, and global scales of development and environmental governance to show how political systems contextualize environment and development policies. 
  • Explain the relationship between climate change and environmental justice, including the ways in which climate change impacts are socially differentiated across race, class, gender, and geography.  
  • Synthesize in research papers and presentations a critical awareness of one’s positionality and the power dynamics in qualitative research, including the histories of exploitation in academic research, to consider the ethics and responsibilities in field research. 

Read more about Program Learning Outcomes.



Coursework

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.


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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 climate change and global warming 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.

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 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; 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 Morocco, Nepal, and Ecuador.

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. 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

Accommodations

Student accommodations will include a mix of homestays, hostels, guesthouses, and small hotels/dorms.  Students will experience homestays where possible, given COVID-19, and will be oriented as they move from place to place.

More About Homestay Experiences:

Family structures will vary. For example, a host family may include a single mother of two small children, or a large extended family with many people coming and going. Please bear in mind that the idea of what constitutes a “home” (i.e., the physical nature of the house) may be different from what you would expect. You will need to be prepared to adapt to a new life with a new diet, a new schedule, new people, and possibly new priorities and expectations.

In most cases, students will be placed in homestays in pairs, with placements made to best accommodate health concerns, including allergies or dietary needs. Information about homestay families will only be available upon arriving in each country.

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.

Sonya Ahamed, PhD bio link
Sonya Ahamed, PhD
Program Director
Jawad Moustakbal bio link
Jawad Moustakbal
Country Coordinator, Morocco
Estefanía Sánchez L., MS bio link
Estefanía Sánchez L., MS
Country Coordinator, Ecuador
Yanik Shrestha bio link
Yanik Shrestha
Country Coordinator, Nepal
Moriah McSharry McGrath, PhD bio link
Moriah McSharry McGrath, PhD
Visiting Faculty

Discover the Possibilities

  • Cost & Scholarships

    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 nearly 1 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.

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  • A DAY IN THE LIFE OF IHP

    Explore a Day in the Life of an IHP student!

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