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IM934 Ecological Futures: Transdisciplinary Approaches

15/20/30 CATS (7.5/10/15 ECTS)
Term 1

This transdisciplinary module aims to develop students’ theoretical, methodological and creative skills to respond ecologically to the pressing environmental challenges faced by contemporary societies. Students will learn through examples and cases to draw connections between the ways in which a range of disciplines and practices are integrating the challenge to think and act ecologically. Drawing upon the earth, environmental, social sciences and humanities, science and technology studies, feminist studies, critical theory and political ecology, art and design, the module will encourage students to reflect critically on the diverse meanings taken by ecological thinking in their own social, disciplinary and professional contexts and on how different approaches to ecological futures relate to each other.


Professor Maria Puig de la Bellacasa


Projected lecture themes include:

  • Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Ecocene
  • Sustainability: a critical reappraisal
  • Concepts of ecology: thinking relationally
  • Nature’s value : commons versus markets
  • Naturecultures : posthuman ethics and justice
  • Technoscience and ecological cultures: technologies of hope and hype
  • Working with nature: ecological design from permaculture to bioarchitecture

Projected seminar topics include

  • Waste: ecological cycles and circular economies
  • Climate change: resilience, resistance and adaptation
  • Atmospheric pollution: citizens and care
  • Food: environmental more than human justice from soil to fork
  • Extinctions: anthropocentrism and interdependency


Boehnert, J. (2018) Design, Ecology, Politics. Towards the Ecocene, Bloomsbury Academic

Cogdell, C. (2018) Toward a Living Architecture? Complexism and Biology in Generative Design, Minnesota University Press, Minneapolis.

Haraway, D.J. (2016) Staying with the Trouble. Making Kin in the Chtulucene, Duke University Press, Durham.

Harris, J.M. (ed) (2003) Rethinking Sustainability: Power, Knowledge and Institutions, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor MI.

Heather Davis and Etienne Turpin (eds.) (2015), Art in the Anthropocene Encounters A mong Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and Epistemologies, Open Humanities Press, London.

Moore, J. (2015) Capitalism in the Web of Life. Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital, Verso, NY/London.

Morton, T. (2010) Ecological Thought. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, MA, USA.

Papadopoulos, D. (2018) Experimental Practice: Technoscience, Alterontologies, and More-Than-Social Movements, Duke University Press, Durham.

Plumwood, V. (1993) Feminism and the Mastery of Nature, Routledge, London/ NY.

Ricoveri, G (2013). Nature for Sale: The Commons versus Commodities, London, Pluto Press.

Tsing, A. L. (2018) The Mushroom at the End of the World. On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins, Princeton University Press, Princeton/Oxford.

Van Dooren, T. (2016) Flight Ways. Life and Loss at the Edge of Extinction, Columbia University Press, NY.

Whitefield Patrick (2016) The Earth Care Manual: A Permaculture Handbook for Britain and Other Temperate Climates, Permanent Publications: Hampshire

Key journal articles from the earth and environmental sciences will be critically analysed in lectures to assess the impact of scientific frameworks in the social sciences and the humanities:

Crutzen, P.J. 2002. Geology of mankind. Nature 415: 23.

Folke, C. (2006) Resilience: The emergence of a perspective for social-ecological systems analyses, Global Environmental Change, 16, 253-267.

Zalasiewicz, J., M. Williams, W. Steffen, and P. Crutzen. 2010. The new world of the Anthropocene. Environmental Science & Technology 44 (7): 2228-31.


By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Understand theory and practice of ecological thinking
  • Critically appraise ecological responses to environmental issues
  • Connect theories of ecology to concrete social, disciplinary, and professional contexts
  • Identify innovation in ecological approaches and their significance for understanding emerging environmental challenges


  • Formative assessed short case study (700-800 words) and presentation midway through the term. This is assessed only insofar as it is compulsory for module completion. It will not contribute to the final grade.
  • The final assesment is an essay. Students will be given the choice of a range of approaches presented in the module to analyse a contemporary ecological response to environmetnal issues (2500 words for 15 CATS; 3000 words for 20 CATS; 5000-6000 words for 30 CATS).