The Fossil Capitalism module will build students’ knowledge of energy and how it links to social systems in the day and age of climate change. It explores the role various forms of energy play in society on a case by case basis, which we explore through case studies that require students to approach complex matters that are at the intersection of multiple disciplines. We will invoke a wide array of analytical tools ranging from those in the fields of political economics, international relations, environmental studies, cultural studies, anthropology, and so on. We begin with unpacking the physical characteristics of energy forms and the social relations in which society’s adopted them, in order to better understand how they have become intricately linked to sustaining or disrupting prevalent power relations. We will learn about biomass, coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, and renewables—all of these have fundamental different physical characteristics shaping their role in societies. We will particularly focus on how fossil fuels developed intimate linkages with capitalist modes of production and how this has led to climate change. Students will develop a thorough understanding of exploring complex social phenomena with a colourful, interdisciplinary toolbox based on case studies, while prompted to think critically of our social modes of organisation.
Module Leader:John Szabó