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IAD Special Topic Seminar Series, Spring 2024


Imagining Just Climate Futures in Africa

2815 SEM 101 R 2:30pm - 4:25pm Jan 22 - May 7, 2024 Bezner Kerr, R Uris Hall, G08 2 credits S/U Combined with: CRP 6770, GDEV 4770, GDEV 6770

Recent assessments of climate change impacts in Sub-Saharan Africa indicate that the continent is already experiencing impacts from rising temperatures, including water shortages, reduced food production, loss of lives and biodiversity loss. There are an increased number of extreme events, from drought, floods and tropical storms, and these events will worsen if global greenhouse gases are not significantly reduced. At the same time, Africa is one of the lowest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, and many countries struggle to manage with the cost of climate change adaptation, while also paying high levels of debt. Alongside these climate challenges are ongoing extractive industries looking to Africa as a new or ongoing source of resources – including mining precious minerals to support renewable alternatives to fossil fuels. Despite this bleak picture, alternative models that are transformative and reparative are emerging as ways to imagine just climate futures in Africa. These alternatives include attention to multiple types of social inequities and building development strategies through dialogue and careful attention to power dynamics. Adaptation approaches that support decent livelihoods alongside biodiversity, ecosystems and indigenous knowledge are being tested and expanded. Recognition of power inequities at multiple scales and reparation of these inequities is part of such approaches.


January 25 - Course Overview  (Rachel Bezner Kerr, Professor, Global Development, and Director, Institute for African Development, Cornell) 

February 1 - Climate Change Mitigation, Carbon Markets and Rural Livelihoods: Rise of Green Extractivism in Mozambique (Natacha Bruna, Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Global Development, Cornell)

February 8 - Could a Sustainable African Rural Future be the Antidote to Climate Change? (Ojok Okello, visionary rural futurist, community organizer, and founder and CEO of Okere City)

February 15 - Climate Change and Policy Reform (Yohannes Kesete, Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist, World Bank) 

February 22 – TBA

March 5 - Ants and Grasshopper documentary and discussion - Cornell Cinema 

March 14 - Empowering Household Energy Transition Amid Climate Change in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Case Study of Cleaner Pellet-Fed Gasifier Cookstoves in Urban Malawi  (Leo Zulu, Associate Professor, Interim Director, African Studies Center, MIchigan State University)

March 21 - (Kurt Waldman, Assistant Professor, Department of Global Development, Cornell University)

March 28 - Financing the Transition to Safe, Equitable, and Resilient Water and Sanitation Services in Africa (David Fuente, School of the Earth, Ocean & Environment, College of Arts and Sciences, University of South Carolina) 

April 4 - Just Climate Futures (Helena Shilomboleni, Assistant Professor, School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability, Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo)

April 11 -Climate Change Health Effects: Extractive Industries and Local Transformative Approaches - (Issac Luginaah, Distinguished University Professor, Canada Research Chair, Health Geography, Graduate Chair, Western University

April 18 -Appropriation of Black Life: Conservation, Carbon, and Capitalism in African Indigenous Spaces - (Kariuki Kirigia, Assistant Professor, School of the Environment, University of Toronto)

April 25 -Mosquitoes and Infectious Disease Prevention (tbc) (Ann Kelly, Professor of Anthropology & Global Health, Kings College London and Javier Lezaun, Associate Professor in the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography and Director of the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society (InSIS), University of Oxford).

May 3-4 - Imagining Just Environmental and Climate Futures in Africa conference

Additional Information

Academic Type

  • Seminar