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Politics/Geography: Defining Environmental Conflict: What? Where? And (most importantly) why? with Ed Atkins from The University of Bristol

24th November 2015 @ 14:00 - 15:00

With the decline of the Cold War, and the traditional concerns that the period embodied, academics and policy-makers began to redefine exactly what ‘security’ means – with an increased focus on the environment, degradation and scarcity as a cause of conflict. Within this, a new causal chain has emerged. One that states that population growth, by increasing consumption and production, shall cause environmental deterioration and scarcity, thus exacerbating competition and creating conflict between people and countries. However is this accurate? In today’s world, how can we detect and define exactly what an environmental conflict is?

Within this hour, we shall pick our way through the characteristics of environmental conflicts, using examples from both the past and the present. We shall aim to cover:

• The relationship between violent conflict and the environment

• The difficulty in understanding some conflicts are purely environmental

• Where are the important flashpoints of conflict? And why these flashpoints occur

• And how an environmental conflict presses us to transform our understanding of exactly what a modern conflict is

About Ed Atkins: Ed Atkins is an ESRC PhD candidate based at the University of Bristol. His research explores the state-redesign of rivers, its social consequences and the narratives used by governments to justify such action.

Suitable for: Year 12 & 13

Preparation/Pre-reading: There is no specific preparation or pre-reading required. However it would be fantastic for students to consider how this subject may interact with their contemporary events, the wider environment (e.g. climate change) and the future – as this would help us engage in an interactive discussion throughout the hour.


24th November 2015
14:00 - 15:00
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