Urban Environments in the Global South


Is garbage always “bad”? Are parks “good”? Are sewers political? This course will explore the social, political, and economic dimensions – processes, structures, and actors – that shape urban environments in the global South. To do this, we will draw on urban political ecology as a conceptual approach, and engage with the scholarship in South Asian and African urbanism, and post-colonial studies. Urban political ecologists understand cities to be (re)produced through a dialectical relationship between society and the biophysical environment, resulting in “hybrids” transformed through technologies and urban metabolism. These processes often result in highly unequitable urban environments. In this module, we will explore socio-natural dynamics across resource and environmental service domains, as well as examining key actors and contemporary policy debates. We will conclude by critically examining the idea and policy impetus of sustainable cities and exploring the presence of ‘Southern’ socio-natures in cities of the global North.

This module addresses teaching on the human/social side of urban environments more broadly and ‘Southern’ environments more specifically. The course expands the department established expertise in Development Geographies and Human-Environment topics. 


  • Essay: 4000 words (100%)

Key skills

The key skills are engagement with literature at the research frontier, understanding ermerging themes in urban political ecology and social-natural dynamics of cities in the global South.