EGS5058F - Critical Perspectives On The Bio-economy

23 credits at NQF level 9

Entry Requirements:

Acceptance for Honours or Master’s specialising in EGS.

Course Outline:

Located at the interface of fast-changing genetic and information technologies, and the juncture of a range of social, environmental and ethical concerns, the so-called bio-economy has changed fundamentally ways in which biodiversity is used, conserved and commercialised. Although often touted as a panacea for energy crises, livelihoods, environmental remediation and food security, critical questions have been raised about who stands to benefit, the involvement of local communities, and economic and political drivers behind the bio-economy "push". Using a political ecology framing, this interdisciplinary course aims to introduce key theories that situate the bio-economy and to deepen understandings about the nature of emerging debates. These range from contestations about genetically modified crops, and 'biopiracy' charges of patenting biodiversity and traditional knowledge, through to the potential of agroecology as an alternative agricultural future. The course aims to deepen critical thinking around these questions, and to inspire a scholarship that explores possibilities for socially just and environmentally sustainable approaches, with a particular focus on the Global South. The course involves both theory and practice, drawing on research mostly from Sub-Saharan Africa. Students will be expected to read set texts, to watch set videos, and to prepare seminars. The course includes a short fieldtrip.