The Earth is facing a climate emergency. Globally, seas are rising, coastlines are eroding, weather patterns are changing, floods, droughts, and forest fires are increasing, and species extinction is rising exponentially. The climate crisis and the threat it poses to life on Earth and frontline communities are among the foremost challenges of our times. As an institution of higher education, it is essential that The New School equip students and faculty with the knowledge, skills, and capability to respond to the challenges ahead. Moreover, as an institution committed to public engagement for social justice and sustainability, it is imperative that The New School develop a comprehensive plan to address the emergency and advance climate justice. Therefore, The Milano Whole Earth Task Force, made up of students, faculty and staff, invites The New School community to a climate emergency teach-in. The aim is to raise awareness, build community momentum and open a space to share ideas and proposals concerning the climate emergency and what The New School can do to further climate-related education and actions.
With collaboration and support from the Tishman Environment and Design Center, the Milano Whole Earth Task Force will lead various modules that will allow participants to examine the climate emergency, its root causes, and pathways for change. These modules will focus on topics like climate justice, intersectionality, race, inequality and frontline communities, the role of universities in education and public engagement, the role of organization, management and political mobilization for cultural, policy and social change, and the practice of nonviolent direct action. We hope that this event will inspire The New School community to develop and explore alternative pathways.
Throughout the teach-in we will create a space for discussion on the climate crisis and reflect on the steps The New School and its community should take to respond to and act for climate justice. We hope to begin and continue conversations to address the following questions:
- What should The New School do to address the Climate Emergency?
- How must The New School change in the face of this Climate Emergency?
- What can The New School do to challenge the root causes of the crisis?
- How ought The New School work to enable more just and sustainable futures?
- How can The New School support frontline communities?
- What ideas and proposals should be considered for a potential plan to address the climate emergency?
PREZI Slideshow: Overview of the Climate Teach-In
For inquiries contact Milano Professors Leonardo E. Figueroa Helland or Mindy Fullilove, or Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management graduate student Genesis Abreu.
A Whole Earth Climate Justice Syllabus for Systemic Change
Increasingly numerous alarming reports by frontline social movements, civil society organizations, intergovernmental and governmental actors and, of course, by scholars and scientists, have once again made it clear that current human interactions with the ecosystem are leading to ecological disruptions that have drastic implications for living organisms, including human beings (see, e.g., IPCC and IPBES reports). Interdisciplinary research warns that we are on the path to “Hothouse Earth” which, following business-as-usual, would within the next few decades result in the irreversible disabling of the geological conditions required for ecosystems and humans to survive and reproduce—unless we embrace radical changes (see e.g., Steffen et al. 2018). While the urgency of the crisis is accelerating daily, prevailing institutional and mainstream efforts have largely failed to shift us from this path (Bond 2018); we need to be doing things radically differently.
Our species co-evolved with millions of other species, and all are endangered by massive changes in every dimension of life. While there is an important focus on the climate changes rocking the world, these are part of a much broader array of planetary disruptions, from the “sixth mass extinction of species”, to toxins spewed across the planet, to the liberal release of plastics everywhere (see, e.g., Bonneuil and Fressoz 2016; CIEL 2019). The whole earth is involved. Yet while the climate crisis is primarily the result of powerful economies and privileged social groups in terms of class, race, gender, colonial legacies, Northern and urban location, gender, and abilities, it particularly builds on exploitation and harm of and unjustly endangers historically marginalized, including gendered, racialized, colonized, Global South, Indigenous, peasant and local, communities (see e.g., Di Chiro 2016; Pulido 2018; Whyte 2018); hence we must center climate justice.
Many institutions, including educational institutions like universities, inasmuch as they have contributed to reproduce the dominant global political economy and the theunequal systems of power and privilege upon which it is built and from which it obtains power and profit, are complicit in the reproduction of the systemic injustices and environmental degradations that have led us down the path of a potentially irreversible crisis. And therefore, all institutions must radically change if they are to contribute to change instead of hampering it and perpetuating social and environmental harm. This of course, includes educational institutions like our own who must deeply and systematically reexamine ourselves and the work we do in light of our place, role and location in social, environmental and geological histories, an unequal global economy and a profoundly asymmetric geopolitics of power and knowledge. We must critically reexamine in what ways we could have and continue to contribute to drive and perpetuate the crisis and harms, and how can draw on our tradition of critical thought to lay out an ambitious plan of action geared towards systemic change, climate justice and solidarity with the front line communities confronting the root drivers of the crisis. We must ask honestly and critically: what sort of knowledges, research, forms of institutional organization and modes of public and global engagement do we embody and undertake that may be contributing to or complicit in creating and or perpetuating climate and related crises, harms and injustices? Furthermore, we must ask: what sort of knowledges, research, forms of institutional organization and modes of public and global engagement do we or could we embody and undertake that would seriously and substantially confront the root drivers, approaches and actors creating the crisis and propose and support actual systemic alternatives and the actors advancing and personifying them?
In the face of this crisis we need a collaborative engagement with pathways, alternatives and organizing efforts for systemic change that can move us beyond the systems and practices that create both climate change and climate injustice while blocking the possibility of real solutions. To avoid perpetuating business as usual and reproducing the so-called ‘solutions’ that end up entrenching the very systems, rationalities and injustices that have produced the crisis, we must center the processes, experiences, knowledges and alternatives advanced by grassroots, marginalized, and non-hegemonic communities (e.g., women, youth, indigenous and people of color, peasants, Global South, non-Western, working class, etc,) (see, e.g., Adelman 2015). Beyond the institutional deadlock, the climate justice movement has momentum for systemic local-to-global change; led by frontline communities, youth, people of color, environmental justice organizations, indigenous, peasant and local communities, women’s and workers organizations committed to just transitions, it is confronting, and advancing alternatives to the drivers of the climate crisis (Bond 2018; Di Chiro 2019; FOEI 2013; FOEI 2018).
We need to center knowledges and actions outside of the mainstream approaches and ways of operating that brought us into this crisis. We need to break away from the dependence on the path of business as usual that brought us to the crisis we are at. We cannot overcome the crisis with the same form of thinking, acting, organizing, teaching, educating and interacting that brought us to the problem in the first place. We must radically change, and this includes institutions like higher education like our own. We need to develop knowledges, forms of education, governance and public engagement that directly confront the root drivers and systems that are producing the crisis. We need to advance structural changes, pathways, initiatives and alternatives that match the scale and scope of the challenges we face and that challenges to step out of the norm so as to contribute to enact the systemic transformation that will bring this cycle of destruction to an end, while opening spaces for renewal.
Readings and Themes
Module 1. Climate Crisis and the Planetary Emergency: The Urgency of Change
I. Overview of the Planetary Crisis:
- Bonneuil and Fressoz, 2016. The Shock of the Anthropocene. New York: Verso.
- Steffen, W., J. Rockström, K. Richardson, T. et al. 2018. “Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene.” PNAS 115(33):8252–8259.
- Angus, I. 2016. Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Capitalism and the Crisis of the Earth System. New York: Monthly Review Press.
- Foster, Clark, York, 2011. Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth. New York: Monthly Review Press.
- IPCC, Global Warming of 1.5C. https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/
- World Meteorological Organization, Provisional Statement on the State of the Global Climate, 2019. https://public.wmo.int/en/resources/library/wmo-provisional-statement-state-of-global-climate-2019
- CIEL, Oil, Gas and Climate: An Analysis of Oil and Gas Industry Plans for Expansion and Compatibility with Global Emission Limits. https://www.ciel.org/reports/oil-gas-and-climate-an-analysis-of-oil-and-gas-industry-plans-for-expansion-and-compatibility-with-global-emission-limits/
- Duyck & Lennon, COP 25: A Process on the Brink of Collapse Confronts a World on the Move: https://us.boell.org/en/2019/12/20/process-brink-collapse-confronts-world-move
- Gonzalez, C.G. 2017. “Global Justice in the Anthropocene.” In Kotzé, L., ed., Environmental Law and Governance for the Anthropocene. London: Hart.
- Whyte, K. 2019. “Too Late for Indigenous Climate Justice: Ecological and Relational Tipping Points.” WIREs Climate Change 11:e603.
II. Root Causes of the Planetary Crisis (from an Intersectional Climate Justice Perspective)
- Davis, H. and Z. Todd. 2017. “On the Importance of a Date, or Decolonizing the Anthropocene.” ACME.
- Adelman, S. 2015. “Epistemologies of Mastery.” Research Handbook on Human Rights and the Environment. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar
- Pulido, L. 2018. “Racism and the Anthropocene.” In Mitman, Emmett and Armiero(eds.), Remains of the Anthropocene. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Collard, R. and J. Dempsey, “Accumulation by Difference-Making, A Gendered Anthropocene Story”. Gender, Place and Culture.
- Gaard, “Ecofeminism, Women & Climate Change”. Women’s Studies International Forum 49:20-33
- Foster, J.B. and F. Magdoff, “What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism”: https://monthlyreview.org/2010/03/01/what-every-environmentalist-needs-to-know-about-capitalism/
- Brand, U. and M. Wissen. 2018. “What Kind of Great Transformation? Imperial Mode of Living as a Major Obstacle to Sustainability Politics” GAIA 27(3):287-292
III. Intersecting Crises: Systemic Analysis Beyond Climate Reductionism (Food, Land, Health, Migration, Economics, Extractivsim, Reactionary Politics, Securitization and Militarization)
- Ahmed, Nafeez. 2010. A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization. London: Pluto.
- Altieri and Nicholls, “Agroecology Scaling Up for Food Sovereignty and Resiliency” Sustainable Agriculture Reviews 11:1-29.
- McMichael, A.J., C.D. Butler and J. Dixon. 2015. “Climate Change, Food Systems and Population Health Risks in their Eco-social Context,” Public Health.
- Global Health Watch, “Structural Roots of Migration” In Global Health Watch 5,edited by People’s Health Movement, Medact, Third World Network, Medico International, Health Poverty Action, Asociación Latinoamericana de Medicina Social. London: ZED
- Gill, S.R. and S.R. Benatar. 2019. “Reflections on the political economy of planetary health.” Review of International Political Economy.
- Gaia Foundation, “Opening Pandora’s Box, Extractive Industries and Land Grabbing”: https://www.gaiafoundation.org/post-library/opening-pandoras-box/
- Robinson, W.I. 2018. “Accumulation Crisis and Global Police State”. Critical Sociology:1-4
- Ahmed, Nafeez. 2017. Failing States, Collapsing Systems: BioPhysical Triggers of Political Violence. Cham: Springer.
- Heinberg, R. Our Renewable Future: https://ourrenewablefuture.org/
IV. Deadlock of Climate Governance: Limits of Mainstream Approaches
- Martine, G. and J. Alves, 2019. “Disarray in Global Governance and Climate Change Chaos.” R. bras. Est. Pop. 36:1-30
- Bond, Social Movements for Climate Justice during the Decline of Global Governance
- CJA-IEN, Carbon Pricing, A Critical Perspective for Community Resistance: https://www.ienearth.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Carbon-Pricing-A-Critical-Perspective-for-Community-Resistance-Online-Version.pdf
- CJA-IEN, Carbon Pricing Popular Education Toolkit: https://co2colonialism.org/
- Carbon Trade Watch, Paths beyond Paris: http://www.carbontradewatch.org/downloads/publications/PathsBeyondParis-EN.pdf
- HOME (Hands Off Mother Earth!) Manifesto [against Geoengineering] (Updated): http://www.geoengineeringmonitor.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/home-new-EN-feb6.pdf
V. The Need for a Paradigm Shift: The Search for Alternatives and the Pathways to Achieve them
- Kothari, A., et al., 2019. “Crisis as Opportunity: Finding Pluriversal Paths.” In E. Klein and C.E. Morreo, eds., Postdevelopment in Practice. New York: Routledge.
- Di Chiro, G. “Care Not Growth, Imagining a Subsistence Economy for All”. BJPIR 2(2):303-311.
- Acha, M. “We Have to Wake Up, Humankind! Women’s Struggles for Survival and Climate and Environmental Justice” Development.
- World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and The Rights of Mother Earth, Peoples’ Agreement and Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth: https://pwccc.wordpress.com/support/
- World Social Forum (WSF), Another Future Is Possible Manifesto: http://rio20.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Another-Future-is-Possible_english_web.pdf
- Nick Estes, ‘A Red Deal’: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2019/08/red-deal-green-new-deal-ecosocialism-decolonization-indigenous-resistance-environment
- Foster, J.B. “On Fire This Time.” https://monthlyreview.org/2019/11/01/on-fire-this-time/
- Christa Wichterich, The Future We Want, A Feminist Perspective: https://www.boell.de/sites/default/files/endf_the_future_we_want.pdf
- WECAN, Women’s Climate Action Agenda: https://www.wecaninternational.org/reports
- London Mining Network, A Justice Transition is a Post-Extractive Transition: https://londonminingnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Post-Extractivist-Transition-report-2MB.pdf
- EJOLT, Refocusing Resistance on Climate Justice: http://www.ejolt.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/climate-justice-report.pdf
- Foran, J. 2019. “System Change, Not Climate Change, Radical Social Transformation in the Twenty-First Century.” In B. Berberoglu, ed. The Palgrave Handbook of Social Movements, Revolution, and Social Transformation. London: Palgrave.
VI. Intersecting Crises: Systemic Challenges and Integral Alternatives Beyond Climate Reductionism
- Heinrich Boll Foundation, Radical Realism for Climate Justice (Dossier): https://www.boell.de/sites/default/files/radical_realism_for_climate_justice_volume_44_all_2.pdf?dimension1=ds_radicalrealism
- Heinrich Boll Foundation, A Change of Course, How to Build a Fair Future in a 1.5 degree world: https://www.boell.de/sites/default/files/change-of-course.pdf?dimension1=division_oen
- CLARA, Missing Pathways to 1.5 degrees, indigenous and community land rights, biodiversity & food sovereignty: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5b22a4b170e802e32273e68c/t/5bef947f4fa51adec11bfa69/1542427787745/MissingPathwaysCLARAreport_2018r2.pdf
- FOEI, Agroecology, Innovating for Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems: https://www.foei.org/resources/publications/agroecology-innovating-for-sustainable-food-systems-and-agriculture
- Delgado Wise, R. 2018. “Is there a space for counterhegemonic participation? Civil society in the global governance of migration,” Globalizations 15(6): 746-761
- FOEI, Good Energy, Bad Energy, Transforming Our Energy System for People and the Planet: https://www.foei.org/good-energy-bad-energy
- WEDO, Power for the People, Delivering on the Promise of Decentralized, Community Controlled Renewable Energy Access: https://wedo.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Power-for-the-People-1.pdf
- The Red Nation, ‘A Red Deal’, https://therednationdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/a-red-deal_-full-working-draft_9-21-19-1.pdf
- TransformativeCities.org: https://transformativecities.org/
- Climate Action Lab, A Peoples Climate Plan for NYC: https://www.centerforthehumanities.org/news/a-peoples-climate-plan-for-new-york-city
- Minga Indigena, Indigenous Climate Chart: https://350.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/CARTACLIMATICA-en.pdf
- Final declaration Social Climate Summit: https://cumbresocialclima.net/comunicado-final-cumbre-social-clima/
VII. Direct Nonviolent Action in the Face of Climate Policy Deadlock: Social Mobilization Paths to Climate Justice
Module 2. Root Shock and Culture Shift: Crisis and Response
- Is ‘climate grief’ a path towards healing the world? http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201909121124-0025916
- Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/03/mental-health-climate.pdf
- Climate Change as the Work of Mourning https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/ethicsenviro.17.2.137?seq=1
- Anomalously warm temperatures are associated with increased injury deaths https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-019-0721-y
- Post traumatic Stress and Posttraumatic Growth Among Low-Income Mothers who Survived Hurricane Katrina https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3904670/
- Trends in mental illness and suicidality after Hurricane Katrina https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2556982/
- Mental Health and Well-Being” chapter of the 2016 Climate and Health Assessment ttps://health2016.globalchange.gov/#chapter-15
- Making the connection Climate Change and Mental Health – 2pager from APHA https://www.apha.org/~/media/files/pdf/topics/climate/climate_changes_mental_health.ashx
- The Psychological Effects of Climate Change on Children. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29637319
Tools and Resources
- Healing Justice Podcast – convenes conversations at the intersection of collective healing and social change https://www.healingjustice.org/
- We Heal for All – Resources & Readings at the nexus of mental health, psychology and the climate crisis https://www.wehealforall.com/climate-collective-resources
- How to Survive the End of World Podcast hosted by Autumn Brown and adrienne maree brown https://www.endoftheworldshow.org/
- Eco Anxious Stories – project where people can submit stories related to climate anxieties, grief, powerlessness, and melancholy – and find tools to cope with those feelings. https://www.ecoanxious.ca/
- Good Grief Network
- Nocturnal Medicine – We create experiences, places & media for working through the social & emotional challenges of environmental change. https://www.nocturnalmedicine.com/
- International Community for Ecopsychology
Module 6. Direct Nonviolent Action in the Face of Climate Policy Deadlock: Social Mobilization Paths to Climate Justice
Trainings on NVDA
- Ruckus Society
Adelman, S. 2015. “Epistemologies of Mastery.” Research Handbook on Human Rights and the Environment. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar
Bond, P., 2018. “Social Movements for Climate Justice during the Decline of Global Governance: From International NGOs to Local Communities.” In S. Lele et al., eds. Rethinking Environmentalism: Linking Justice, Sustainability and Diversity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, Strüngmann Forum Reports, vol. 23, pp. 153-182.
Bonneuil, C. and J-B. Fressoz, 2016. The Shock of the Anthropocene. New York: Verso.
Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), 2019.Plastic & Climate: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet. URL: https://www.ciel.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Plastic-and-Climate-FINAL-2019.pdf
Di Chiro, G. 2016. “Environmental Justice and the Anthropocene Meme.” In T. Gabrielson, et al. Oxford Handbook of Environmental Political Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Di Chiro, G. 2019. ‘Care, Not Growth: Imagining a Subsistence Economy for All.” The British Journal of Politics and International Relations 21(2): 303-311.
Friends of the Earth International (FOEI), 2013. “Good Energy, Bad Energy? Transforming Our Energy System for People and the Planet.” URL: https://www.foei.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Good-energy-bad-energy.pdf
Friends of the Earth International (FOEI), 2018. “Agroecology: Innovating for Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems.” URL: https://www.foei.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Agroecology-innovation-EN.pdf
Pulido, L. 2018. “Racism and the Anthropocene.” In by G. Mitman, R. Emmett and M. Armiero, eds. The Remains of the Anthropocene. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Steffen, W., J. Rockström, K. Richardson, T. et al. 2018. “Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene.” PNAS 115(33):8252–8259.
Whyte, K.P. 2018. “Indigenous Science (Fiction) for the Anthropocene: Ancestral Dystopias and Fantasies of Climate Change Crises.” Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space 1(1–2):224–242