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    Geographies of contestation and action and how groups from the local to global scales have initiated processes and practices to create alternative, more sustainable and equitable futures.

    Climate change, poverty, global inequality, racism, ongoing colonialism, the housing crisis, pollution, biodiversity loss… the list of crises goes on. People engage in all sorts of forms of social action to address these issues - some engage in non-violent direct action and activism, others seek to create change through their everyday lives by living differently, others work with their communities, others lobby governments and are active in civic affairs.

    Contestation and social and environmental action are fundamental parts of a democratic society. Sometimes there are successes and change occurs, sometimes it is much more challenging.  This paper will provide students with a critical understanding of the nature of contestation and action for change at different scales (individual, local, national and global) and explore the opportunities and constraints that groups face in seeking a more equal, just and sustainable world. 

    About this paper

    Paper title Geographies of Contestation, Action and Change
    Subject Geography
    EFTS 0.15
    Points 18 points
    Teaching period Not offered in 2024 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $1,173.30
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    GEOG 280 or 108 points of which at least 18 points must be at 200-level
    GEOG 276
    Schedule C
    Arts and Music, Science
    May not be credited together with GEOG379 passed in 2014.
    Teaching staff

    Course Co-ordinator: Associate Professor Sophie Bond

    Paper Structure

    The paper is organised into four parts:

    • Part I: The foundations of critical geography
    • Part II: The neoliberal present
    • Part III: Spaces of contestation, action and change
    • Part IV: Conclusion: Geographies of action and change

    Assessment is 60% internal (on-going during the semester) and 40% external (final examination).

    Teaching Arrangements

    Two lectures per week and 7 x 50 minute tutorials scheduled over the 13 weeks of the semester.

    One full-day symposium (a Saturday), at which attendance is compulsory.


    Textbooks are not required for this paper.

    Readings are selected from a range of sources, including journals, books and edited collections. A reading list will be provided at the beginning of term, with most readings available through eReserve via Blackboard.

    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Communication, Critical thinking, Environmental literacy, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes

    Students who successfully complete this paper will be enabled to

    1. Understand the history and place of critical thought in human geography
    2. Demonstrate the relevance of critical geographies in contemporary examples of contestation, action and change (with a particular focus on neoliberalisation in Aotearoa/New Zealand)
    3. Understand and apply key concepts in geographies of contestation, action, social movements and indigeneity to real-world examples from the local to the global scales
    4. Engage with and apply these concepts to the activities and struggles of local community groups


    Not offered in 2024

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system
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