This is the restructured 7th edition of the first master’s degrees in the fields of political ecology, degrowth and environmental justice. Changes are based on students’ evaluations from the 1st to the 6th edition. Feedback received was implemented so that courses could improve their logical, high-quality, and substantially autonomous content. The restructuring is also based on several collective qualitative assessments in which students, the direction and coordination team and teachers have discussed the strong and weak points of the master.

The master’s is co-organized by the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) and Research & Degrowth International (R&Di), bringing together the scholarly excellence of ICTA-UAB researchers with hands-on experience in activism and policymaking of R&Di’s networks. The master’s coordination team draws upon over ten years of successful organizational experience in international summer schools focused on environmental justice and degrowth. It leverages the ongoing European Research Council Synergy project on post-growth (REAL), the largest degrowth-oriented initiative in Europe. Additionally, the teaching team benefits from a rich tradition of research and advocacy related to environmental justice at ICTA-UAB, which includes the Global Atlas of Environmental Justice ( In addition, our program is enriched by its Barcelona location, the capital of Catalonia. It is a city and country historically at the forefront of mobilizations for the commons, social and solidarity cooperatives, and community economies. We have developed close collaborations and partnerships with several civil groups and cooperatives in the city and its metropolitan region. We have a network of ‘living labs’ in the Catalan countryside, where degrowth is practised and experienced in a rural setting.

The content of the Master’s degree is designed to respond to the current era of unfolding ecological breakdown and the interrelated crises of historical and growing inequalities, poverty and environmental disasters. The common root of these crises is the growth imperative of capitalist economies or risk collapse. The Master’s provides a holistic understanding of environmental and social problems as inter-connected and linked to the uneven distribution of power under capitalism, requiring profound systemic change.

This program aims to provide students with the knowledge and tools to think critically and to bring forward such change effectively. We aspire to train the next generation of environmental justice scholars and activists, engaged civil society, and entrepreneurs of the cooperative economy – those who will put into action the best ideas for creating a fair, enjoyable and ecologically sustainable society. Our pedagogy is based on a combination of lecture-style, research, cooperative learning, and hands-on experience. You will be asked to read and write academic texts and learn through field visits and engagement with grassroots initiatives focused on ecologically and socially transformative practices. Group work is meant to hone your teamwork skills and peer-to-peer competencies, as most of the assignments will be developed collaboratively.

We strive to include a decolonial perspective in the master though it is important to note that most of the teachers are researchers from and trained in, Europe and the Global North. 


1. Degrowth (9 ECTS) Compulsory

Objective: Explain the history of degrowth and analyse the different sources of the degrowth scholarship. Present the critical analysis of the growth society and how to debunk the current colonial imaginary of the westernized capitalism.

Methodology: Each class will involve a mix of lectures and interactive class discussions. Mandatory readings from contemporary academic literature on degrowth will be used to enable cooperative learning.

1.1.Introduction to Degrowth (Giorgos Kallis, 10 hrs): Introduction to the history and sources of degrowth, the current state of research and the future ahead.

1.2. Biophysical Limits to Growth (Salvador Pueyo, 10 hrs): Environmental source of degrowth, including the law of entropy and biophysical limits to growth and the links with biodiversity loss and climate crisis.

1.3. Capitalism, Colonialism and Growth (Jason Hickel, 10 hrs): The links between capitalism and, colonialism, with a focus on unequal exchange. This section focuses on debates around global poverty and inequality to think of a degrowth future from a Southern perspective.

1.4. Well-being and Degrowth (Filka Sekulova, 10 hrs): Well-being as a multi-dimensional concept and a theoretical and empirical lens in thinking and planning around degrowth.

1.5. Decolonizing Degrowth (Brototi Roy, 10 hrs): The post-development critique and linking ideas of decolonial thinking and action with degrowth.

2. Political Ecology, Feminism and Environmental Justice (9 ECTS) Compulsory

Objective: Explain what is political about environmental problems and critically engage with “apolitical” approaches to environmental issues in terms of population, biophysical, or human-behavioural drivers. Illustrate how power inequalities over race, class, gender, national origin or income shape socio-environmental conflicts and environmental justice. Describe the transformative role of environmental struggles, providing conceptual and methodological tools to study different struggles on the ground.

Methodology: Each class will involve a mix of frontal classes, collective discussion, participative debates, and group work to enable mutual learning.

2.1.Political Ecology (Diego Andreucci, 10 hrs & Santiago Gorostiza, 10 hrs): A critical introduction to the interdisciplinary field of political ecology, the study of how power affects socio-environmental relations and processes. It offers a global view of the current ecological crisis and its political, economic, cultural, historical, and epistemological dimensions and interconnections. It will explore theoretical frameworks and key concepts underlying the contemporary political and ecological critique of capitalism and development.

2.2. Socio-environmental conflicts and Environmental Justice (Marta Conde, 10 hrs & Sara Mingorria, 10 hrs): Main causes, traits and strategies of resistance in environmental conflicts through the Environmental Justice Atlas. Together, we will explore the current colonial critique of environmental justice and transition ideas, looking instead to emancipatory locally led resistance processes. We will analyze the role of science and scientists in these conflicts.

2.3.Feminist Political Ecology (Federica Ravera, 10 hrs): Understanding of core feminist concepts and analytical tools needed to (a) explore the hetero-patriarchal dimensions of the socioeconomic system and the “growth society”; and (b) examine the gender dimensions of environmental justice and conflicts. Ecological economics is revisited from a feminist

economics perspective. And ecofeminist contributions enrich and expand degrowth both as a discipline and a social movement.

3. The Barcelona School of Political Ecology and Degrowth (6 ECTS) Compulsory

Objective: Specific contributions, vantage points, but also limits of the Barcelona School in the wide and blooming scholarship of political ecology and degrowth. The introductory course and the series of seminars with various teachers present its theoretical and methodological perimeters while offering an overview of its cutting-edge research frontiers.

Methodology: The subject involves a mix of frontal classes, collective discussion, participative debates and group work to enable cooperative learning. Most of classes will have a seminar-like format.

3.1.Introduction to the Barcelona School (Giacomo D’Alisa, 8 hrs): The history of the Barcelona school of political ecology and the core concepts and approaches it has developed since its emergence, e.g., language of valuation, ecological distribution conflict, environmentalism of the poor, post-normal science, degrowth.

3.2. Social metabolism (Marcel Llavero, 6 hrs): The theoretical concept of societal metabolism and how its applied role within the studies of environmental conflict, political ecology and degrowth.

3.3.Conservation (Sara Mestre, 4 hrs): Presents the neoliberal conservation logic, its key processes, and implications. Critical assessment of the habitat banking policy that promotes offsetting impacts on biodiversity of development projects.

3.4.Extractivism (Roberto Cantoni, 6 hrs): Explains the drivers and determinants of the expansion of extraction frontiers; ecologically unequal exchange, world systems theory and the globalised neo-colonial economy; extractivism and environmental conflicts as well as “the end of extractivism”.

3.5.Indigenous Knowledge and Resistance (Álvaro Fernández-Llamazares, 6hrs & Sandrine Gallois, 6hrs): Present Indigenous perspectives on the current social-ecological crisis, scholarship approaching environmental justice through an Indigenous lens, and the contributions of Indigenous knowledge to the fields of sustainability and political ecology.

3.6. Real Existing Degrowth (Marula Tsagkari, 6 hrs): Present degrowth and post-growth practices and experiences. Introduction of the concept/typologies of real existing degrowth and discussion of specific cases.

3.7.Urban Environmnetal Justice (Panagiota Kotsila, 4 hrs): Unpack the urban and urbanization as a process whereby environmental and social change co-determine each other. Introduce urban environmental justice and discuss recent urban re-naturing and climate adaptation interventions as power-laden and contested.

4. Practice of Sustainability (6 ECTS) Compulsory

Objective: Explain a variety of modalities to put degrowth into practice, with rural and urban examples, or through artistic practice as a tool to change imaginaries. Highlight the importance of feedback loops between practice, academia, experimentation and activism in fomenting and fuelling systemic change.

Methodology: Hands-on and interactive guided experiences of degrowth projects and field work. Participative debates about Barcelona’s socio-ecological movements. Artistic workshops where the body is used as a vector for communicating environmental (in)justice issues.

4.1.Experiential Practice of Degrowth (Michael Duff, 8hrs; Francois Schneider, 8hrs; Claudio Cattaneo, 8hrs): Practically-enabled learning through exposure to attempts at embodied, transversal, degrowth living via visits to specific rural living labs (Can Decreix, La Bruguera, Picamoixons). Development of a personal, experiential degrowth plan, examining obstacles to change (e.g., personal, cultural, systemic, economic and more).

4.2.Activism in Barcelona (Claudio Cattaneo, 8 hrs & Sergio Ruiz Cayuela 8hrs): History of social and environmental activism in barcelona with visits to landmarks for the city’s social movements. Presentations from city activists and theoretical classes on issues of activism.

4.3.Embodiment, movement and arts-based expressions of environmental justice (Maria Heras, 5hrs & Carlo Sella, 5hrs): Introduction to the role and potential of artistic expressions in activist research, education and action around environmental justice and degrowth. Students will actively participate in a reflective, experiential learning process through an embodied approach based on movement, participatory theatre and process work.


5. Commons (6 ECTS) Compulsory

Objective: Introduce the cutting-edge concepts and practices from the commons and commons-based peer-to-peer production experiences and discuss their transformative potential in contemporary society.

Methodology: Each class will involve a mix of frontal classes, collective discussion, participative debates, and group work to enable mutual learning. It will also entail peer-to-peer evaluation processes.

5.1. Introduction to the Commons (Giacomo D’Alisa, 10 hrs): Introduces the study of commons by drawing on three perspectives: the institutional school of Elinor Ostrom, political ecology and economy of the enclosure, and digital commons and the disruptive potential of peer-to-peer collaboration.

5.2.Rural Commons (Sergio Villamayor, 10 hrs): Takes an institutional and political ecology perspective to introduce the management of natural resources as led by local communities. It focuses on “traditional” natural resources such as forests, water and fisheries, and more recent ecosystem and landscape services. The course also discusses the pros and cons of “governance by communities”, as compared to the role of governments and markets, and possibilities for integration.

5.3.Urban Commons (Iolanda Bianchi, 10 hrs): Explores the relationship between commons and the urban context. First, it examines how distinct urban processes affect the development of commons in cities, showing how these processes offer ambivalent political possibilities for urban commons. Second, it presents cases of commons across different urban geographies, dwelling on the case of Barcelona. Third, it explores the link between commons and urban policy-making, presenting some commons-inspired co-production arrangements adopted by different European local governments.

5.4.Digital Commons and P2P production (Alex Pazaitis, 10 hrs): Theoretical and hands-on exploration of the theory and practice of online and offline collaboration and sharing. The goal is to engage in a critical discussion of the internet-enabled collaborative initiatives. Students will engage in multi-disciplinary literature about digital commons and their hidden socio-environmental costs.

5.5.Supports structures and geographies of the commons (Angelos Varvarousis, 10hrs): Synthesise the lessons of the previous courses and apply them to concrete geographies. Students will work in groups on the gamified educational platform upstream, which is a tool for analysing and transforming existing city-regions and other similarly scaled territories in the direction of the commons. The process is divided into four parts: in the first phase, students choose their area of research and, through the use of play-cards, analyse

the existing support structures that may facilitate such a transition. In the second phase, they seek to understand the connections and the dynamics between these support structures with an emphasis on the factors that foster or hinder their co-evolution. In the third phase, they seek to read their map of supporting structures from different perspectives to understand and unveil missing elements and potential problems. In the final phase, students attempt to reshape the future through back casting methods.


At the moment of the enrolment, students will choose between:

6.1. Research Skills (9 ECTS, optional)

Objective: Learn how to design academic research and develop different qualitative and quantitative research skills.

Methodology: Each class contains compulsory readings required for understanding and developing research skills, as well as critical and participatory approaches in academic research and ethics. We implement critical theory to research methods. Discussions in class, group learning, different practical tools, and research exercises are then integrated into our teaching methodology.

6.1.1. Research Design (Esteve Corbera, 8 hrs): Introduce the fundamental pillars of scientific enquiry, including the main epistemological traditions, suggest possible avenues to identify a broad research topic and relevant research questions, and discuss the characteristics and challenges of conducting multidisciplinary environmental research.

6.1.2. Ethics, Positionality, and Participatory Research (Ksenija Hanaček, 10 hrs): Introduction to research design and overview of ontologies and epistemology with positioning, reflexivity, and ethics; qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods for data collection, research questions and objectives located in each method; plural ways of knowledge through a critical, participatory, feminist, and decolonial lens.

6.1.3. Qualitative methods (Simona Getova, 8hrs): Development of different qualitative research designs, data coding and interpretation of results. Integration of participatory and arts-based qualitative research workshops.

6.1.4. Q-Methods (Christos Zogrofos, 8 hrs): An introduction to Q, a mixed methodology to identify discourses, attitudes, and social narratives using a small number of interviewees. The course will teach students how to design and execute a Q study, from identifying salient statements and respondents, to analysing data and presenting findings.

6.1.5. Survey (Sergio Villamayor, 8 hrs): The course is taught as a “practicum”, i.e., theory about how to design and implement a survey is linked to exercises to solve practical problems. Students will become aware of the importance of participation when designing surveys; familiar with basic biases to avoid when designing surveys, knowledgeable of basic sampling theory, acquire hands-on experience with the design of questionnaires and knowledge of best practices, aware of the opportunities and

challenges of in-person, phone and online surveys; familiar with basic survey data analysis strategies.

6.1.6. Integrated Assessment (Raul Velasco Fernandez, 18 hrs): Hands on practice with quantitative assessment techniques such as social multi-criteria evaluation and MUSIASEM (multi-scale integrated analysis of societal and ecosystem metabolism), including participatory designs of doing research.

6.2.Professional Skills (9 ECTS, optional)

Objective: Hands-on tools and skills that are essential in professional sectors that promote democratic decision-making processes, activism, and collaborative attitudes. Introduce students to the plurality of solidarity, community economy, cooperatives, and campaigning.

Methodology: The course involves mixture of theoretical class, peer-to-peer discussion, group dynamics, practical personal and group work, role play and interactive group games.

6.2.1. Facilitation Technique (Mar Maiques Díaz, 14 hrs) This course introduces group cohesion facilitation, horizontal decision-making processes, conflict resolution practices and creative tools to get there.

6.2.2. Campaigning (Emma Avilez, 8hrs & Rakel Muñoz, 8hrs): This course teaches how to design and build an activist campaign both from an organization’s perspective and from grassroots. Special emphasis on communication techniques and political strategy. Activist collectives will be invited to participate using methodologies like theory of change, audience understanding, and storytelling.

6.2.3. Setting Up a Cooperative Enterprise (Andrea Calsamiglia, 16 hrs): This course aims to learn the practical aspects of setting up an enterprise in the social, solidarity or collaborative sector. Professionals from the sector will be invited to participate.

6.2.4. Promoting open community Economies ( Monica Garriga, 14 hrs) this course explores how to set up open sustainable projects with the community that is targeted. Using the commons sustainability model as a way of collectively solving the needs of people.


7. TFM (as in the previous years designed by Claudio Cattaneo and Gonzalo Gamboa)

In this master’s program TFM is designed as either an academic standard thesis or professional thesis. This subject allows the student to choose to do:

1) scientific research 1a) an academic paper or 1b) or a non-academic output (i.e. an opinion article for a national or international newspaper such as the Guardian, El, a documentary video, a podcast, few blog entries contributing to a relevant debate to entitle blog,, Uneven Earth, etc.). In any case, thesis must be based on sound scientific research (including development of methods 6.1 or 6.2) and be fully referenced and supported by a written document that will formally be considered as a master dissertation in compliance with UAB regulations.

2) An applied project through a practicum in an organisation contributing to a more socioecological society. Depending on the hosting organisation and the agreement reached with it, option 2 can be anything between a stand-alone one – that begins and ends with the work of the student; contribution to a specific project that has a longer timeframe than the one in which the student is doing the practicum within that organisation, or a contribution to the ongoing activities of the organisation.

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