Environmental Knowledges and the Politics of Expertise

I convene this Part 2 (final year) undergraduate course in the Department of Geography at Cambridge and co-teach it with Dr Amy Donovan and Dr Maan Barua. The course is concerned with the making and using of different kinds of environmental knowledges, engaging with literature from the geographies of science, science and technology studies and environmental social sciences to interrogate the formation of scientific, lay and local knowledges in specific contexts.

The politics of scientific expertise has become critically important in environmental debates and controversies in recent decades, leading to a large body of work on the geographies of knowledge creation, how knowledge is accepted or challenged in public life, and how environmental knowledge controversies evolve and resolve.  This course will introduce students to the social study of environmental knowledge, both in its creation (who, or even what, produces knowledge) and its social reception, with particular attention to the co-production of scientific knowledge and social order and the formation of consensus.  Key theories, concepts and ideas will be introduced in the Michaelmas Term, while in the Lent Term there will be a focus on specific empirical examples which will allow students to interpret the politics of expertise through these theoretical concepts.  The case studies will include both local and international examples, seeking to represent the politics of environmental knowledge and expertise in a broad geographical context.