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Graduate course

Climate Imaginaries: Feminist and Queer Perspectives on Thinking Climate Change

The course “Climate Imaginaries: Feminist and Queer Perspectives on Thinking Climate Change” offers an interdisciplinary investigation of how we imagine climate change in contemporary times.

Flooded landscape


The course was held 17-19 August 2015


Priscilla Wald, Duke, and  Margaret Alston, Monash University


Scott Bremer (environmental governance/philosophy of science), Kari Jegerstedt (comparative literature/gender studies), Donna McCormack (medical humanities/post-colonial studies), Mohammad Salehin (sociology/climate change) and Mathew Stiller-Reeve (climate science/meteorology)

Course description

The course “Climate Imaginaries: Feminist and Queer Perspectives on Thinking Climate Change” offers an interdisciplinary investigation of how we imagine climate change in contemporary times. Climate change is increasingly recognized as a global crisis, and many scientific studies back up this claim. Yet how climate change is understood and imagined differs immensely, not only between scientists, but also in everyday practices, public debates, media, art, film and literature, activist organizations, political discourse, NGO communications and advertising. These diverse imaginaries form our epistemologies of climate change, and thereby open for particular political and moral dilemmas, agencies, strategies and resistances.

This interdisciplinary course brings together scholars from the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities to explore the ways in which these epistemologies, dilemmas, agencies, strategies and resistances are gendered. Core concepts and epistemological traditions to be discussed include the nature/culture split, the anthropocene, planetarity, (post-)apocalyptic narratives and images, pre and post-disaster gendered strategies on the ground, environmental justice, dominant climate science discourse, and the climate science/policy interface. By examining these ideas through the lens of feminist and queer theories and methodologies, the course addresses how embodiment, difference, imagination and environment intersect with discussions on climate change. This course will critically examine the complex ways in which climate change affects gender and social relations, thereby exploring how existing policy narratives and adaptation programmes may be better informed by feminist and queer perspectives. More specifically, the course critically engages with the intersection between scientific imaginaries and wider social concerns, with a particular emphasis on the dissemination of scientific data to the public, activist work, practices in post-disaster areas, and literature and film. While critically examining dominant environmental imaginaries of crisis and potentiality, we also hope to explore what other imaginaries are absent, hidden or emerging.

The questions that we will explore throughout the workshop are:

  • How is climate change imagined?
  • What does it mean to think about climate change from feminist and queer perspectives?
  • What are the ethical and political challenges that climate change and climate imaginaries raise?
  • What other critical scientific perspectives should we bring to climate change, and why?

The course may be of interest to anyone working on climate-related research, whether in the natural sciences, the social sciences or the humanities. Importantly, participants should be interested in critically engaging with dominant climate imaginaries that are becoming influential in our contemporary institutions and in exploring these ideas through feminist and queer perspectives and methodologies. The course is open for advanced MA-students, researchers and postdoctoral fellows, as well as PhD-candidates.


Active participation in this workshop entails reading the literature (to be distributed prior to the course) from the point of view of the workshop questions and the researcher’s own research. 3 ects will be given for active participation and a short presentation – made in relation to one’s own research project, to select workshop literature, and to the workshop questions  –  and an additional 2 ects will be given for an essay submitted to the tutors no later than three months after the final day of the course. The essay should be around 10 pages (evaluated pass/fail).   

Lecturers Bio

Priscilla Wald is a Professor of English and Women's Studies at Duke University. She teaches and works on U.S. literature and culture, contemporary narratives of science and medicine, science fiction literature and film, and environmental studies.

Margaret Alston is Head of Department of Social Work and theDirector of the Gender, Leadership and Social Sustainability (GLASS)research unit at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. Her recentpublications include 'Women and Climate Change in Bangladesh'(Routledge,2015) and 'Research, Action and Policy: Addressing the Gendered ImpactsofClimate Change' (edited with Kerri Whittenbury) (Springer 2013).