School of Social and Political Science

Gender and Environment


There has been a steady growth of social science research into environmental issues over the past 30 years. Yet, the majority of social science research and writing in mainstream publications and disciplines remains largely gender-blind. There is, however, an established body of feminist analyses of environmental issues that requires greater attention in both scholarly and policy arenas.

This course will engage with these feminist analyses of environmental issues, asking:

  • What is the relationship between gender and environment?
  • How have others in the social sciences theorised gender, environment and their relationship, including recent trends in this area?
  • How can a gender-sensitive lens advance our analyses of and proposed solutions to environmental issues?

Themes include:

  • Ecofeminism and its critics
  • Gender and environmental justice
  • Intersectionality and environment
  • Pollution and the body
  • Feminist studies of animal-human relations
  • Gender and environmental activism
  • Domestic eco technologies
  • Resource creation, use and conservation
  • Gender dimensions of climate change
  • Consumption and subject formation

Through topics such as climate change, resource creation and use, consumption, conservation and human population, this course will address the gender dimensions of environmental issues. The course introduces students to a number of theories, debates and concepts including ecofeminism, feminist studies of science and technology, and standpoint theory. In doing so, we will examine how gender (masculinities/femininities) intersects with other social categorisations.

The course addresses the relationship between the personal and the political, scholarship and activism.

At the end of the course, students will have a critical understanding of the changing theorising of gender-environment relations in the social sciences, including recent advances. Students will also have acquired knowledge of empirical examples and methodological tools for conducting gender-sensitive analysis of environmental issues.

The course structure follows the scales at which gender-environment relations are manifest: from objects, bodies, households and communities to social movements, nations and the global. Topics including human-animal relations, reproduction, climate change, plastic pollution, and sustainable technologies in the home will be used to explore bodies of thinking and writing in the area of gender and environment. Working with the notion of intersectionality we will identify the interconnections and interactions of social categorisations for a given environmental issue, thus avoiding man/woman binaries or simplistic explanations of domination and power. At the same time we will examine how, in specific contexts of environmental concerns, social categorisations such as masculine, human and natural are challenged, reproduced or remade.

This is a level 10 course with 20 credits
There will be 1 lecture and 1 tutorial per week in Semester 2