Environment, Development and Peace

3 credits / 9 weeks weeks
5 Aug 2024 - 6 Oct 2024

Professor Jan Breitling

This course will introduce students to the relations between the environment, development, and peace and conflict. We will discuss the concepts of Global Environmental Change, Sustainable Development, Green Economy, and Environmental Security. We will draw on the examples of Climate Change and Deforestation, as two of the main environmental challenges the world is facing. We will analyze the different approaches to development inside the sustainable development discourse, and link it to the emerging Green Economy discourse arising in addressing Global Environmental Change and Poverty reduction. These themes will be explained and critically analyzed.

A second theme of this course is Environmental Security. We will discuss and analyze this field emphasizing on its complexity and some underlying neo-Malthusian ideas that still prevail in much of this literature. Specifically, we will look at the linkages between natural resources and conflicts focusing not only on environmental scarcities, but also on the resource curse and resource abundance approaches to so-called “environmental conflicts”. Similarly, we will discuss the role of the environment and of natural resources for sustainable peace, and how natural resources can or could be used in initiating a peace process.

Finally, the students will examine the Rwanda genocide and the different approaches used to analyze and explain this conflict. This case study will serve to bring all the concepts of this course together and to draw general conclusions.

Jan Breitling


Dr. Jan Breitling (Germany) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environment and Development at University for Peace. Originally trained as a Forest Engineer in the Technological Institute of Costa Rica, he holds a MSc. in Environmental Sciences from Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands, and a PhD from the University for Peace. His research interests include the political ecology of forest cover change, climate change and climate security, and the role of ecotourism in conservation and community resilience to change. 


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