Just Governance: Lessons on Climate Change Justice from People in Poverty

Tuesday, June 16, 2020
12:30 pm – 2:00 pm EDT

We are pleased to invite you to the third webinar of the “Facing Inequality” series, hosted by the Institute for International Economic Policy. This virtual series focuses on current and emerging inequality issues in the U.S. and around the globe – especially those revealed by the current COVID-19 pandemic. It brings together historians, economists, sociologists, political scientists, and epidemiologists, within the academy and without, to present work and discuss ideas that can facilitate new interdisciplinary approaches to the problem of inequality. This is a platform for dialogue and debate. We invite you to engage with us in this series of important discussions.

The “Facing Inequality” series is organized under the stewardship of IIEP Director James Foster, Oliver T. Carr, Jr. Professor of International Affairs and Professor of Economics, and IIEP Faculty Affiliate Trevor Jackson, Assistant Professor of History. The series is co-sponsored by the GW Interdisciplinary Inequality Series, co-organized by Prof. Jackson from the Department of History and Prof. Bryan Stuart from the Department of Economics. 

The third event, “Just Governance: Lessons on Climate Change Justice from People in Poverty”, focuses on issues of climate change and inequality. Specifically, the discussion will prompt attendees to ask, as our world faces catastrophic climate change and related global injustice and oppression, what can those living in the poorest communities most vulnerable to its effects teach us about its causes? Drawing on interdisciplinary and collaborative research in southwestern Bangladesh, this talk shifts the paradigm of responsibility for climate change from the familiar terrain set out by law, economics, and moral philosophy focused on ‘commons’ problems and distributive inequalities to one centered on the lived experience of climate change. Those living with environmental degradation that is exacerbating with climate change and that foreshadows the effects of climate change elsewhere offer clarifying insight into the kinds of normative problems that climate change raises for both justice and governance. Relying on community fabric worn thin by the legacies of colonialism, foreign aid experiments, and exploitable social hierarchies, these communities’ experiences and reflections have implications for how political theorists and policy-influencers, especially large global philanthropists and investors, do and should attend to justice and governance in their work for climate change mitigation, adaptation, and survival.

The climate change crisis reveals the full gamut of humanity’s failure to govern itself in ways that do not exploit nature and humans. This talk identifies what those in poverty most urgently facing the consequences of this failure can teach those must urgently trying to address it. Richly informed by ethnographies, surveys, interviews, and project assessments in 26 communities of those most effected by climate change, the talk will point toward new normative approaches to climate justice and provide a refreshed ethical map to political efficacy.

About the Speaker:

Brooke Ackerly is a Professor of Political Science, Philosophy, and Law, and Affiliated Faculty in Women’s and Gender Studies at Vanderbilt University and co-Editor-in-Chief of the International Feminist Journal of Politics (2018-2021)In her research, teaching, and collaborations, she works to clarify without simplifying the most pressing problems of global justice, including human rights and climate change. Using feminist methodologies, she integrates into her theoretical work empirical research on activism and the experiences of those affected by injustice (Grounded Normative Theory). See Political Theory and Feminist Social Criticism (Cambridge 2000), Universal Human Rights in a World of Difference (Cambridge 2008), Doing Feminist Research with Jacqui True (Palgrave Macmillan 2010, second edition forthcoming), and most recently, Just Responsibility: A Human Rights Theory of Global Justice (Oxford University Press 2018), which won the APSA Victoria Schuck Award for the best book on women and politics.

She is currently working on the intersection of global economic, environmental, and gender justice in their material and epistemic dimensions. She teaches courses on justice, ethics and public policy, feminist theory, feminist research methods, human rights, contemporary political thought, and gender and the history of political thought. She is the winner of the Vanderbilt College of Arts and Science Graduate Teaching Award and the Margaret Cuninggim Mentoring Prize. She is the founder of the Global Feminisms Collaborative, a group of scholars and activists developing ways to collaborate on applied research for social justice. She advises academics and donors on evaluation, methodology, and the ethics of research. She serves the profession through committees in her professional associations including the American Political Science Association (APSA), International Studies Association (ISA), and the European Consortium on Politics and Gender (ECPG). She currently serves on the APSA Committee for the Status of Women in the Profession. She has been a member of the editorial board for Politics and Gender (Journal of the APSA, Women and Politics Section) and is currently a member of the editorial boards of the Political Research QuarterlyJournal of Politics, and Politics, Gender and Identities.

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