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GEOG463 Geographies of Justice


Justice and its compatriots, equality and freedom, are core principles of democratic societies. But what does justice mean? What is just for some groups in society may not be just for others. In an era of significant change, looking to the last 50 years or so, and looking forward to a raft of uncertainties across the globe in the future, the question of justice is pertinent. A keen sensitivity to issues of justice and ways of assessing the question of what is just is required for all policy makers in social, environmental and economic governance roles. This course will provide students with an understanding of what injustice means in a range of circumstances, with a view to equipping students with the analytical skills, sensitivity and understanding of how the question of justice affects people differently in different places and in relation to different issues.

The course will explore the question of 'justice for whom' at different scales, and in relation to both social and environmental issues. The course is divided into four parts. The first part of the course will interrogate what we mean by justice. It asks, where does this concept come from, what are its roots and what are the legacies of those roots for how justice might be perceived, experienced and lived, and how does this relate to a broad conception of citizenship and rights. The second part of the course explores issues around social justice and inequality, drawing specifically on issues of health justice. The third part of the course begins with a look at what environmental justice means for communities, and for the material world of nature itself. The session then turns to issues of indigeneity and nature. Finally, we turn to the issues of global justice, which draws both social and environmental justice together to consider how as global citizens we can think about future uncertainties, climate justice, and extremes of inequality.

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Exploration of social and environmental (in)justice. Analysis of how justice affects people differently in different places, in relation to different issues.

How do we determine what is just? What is just for some might not be just for others. Justice is fundamentally a human centered or anthropocentric concept - can justice be conceived of in non-human terms? What is a just response to injustice? In this course we will explore some of these issues, in the context of broader debates in critical geography.

Paper title Geographies of Justice
Paper code GEOG463
Subject Geography
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2023 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,409.28
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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May not be credited together with GEOG465 passed in 2016 or 2017.

Teaching staff

Course Co-ordinator: Dr Christina Ergler

Paper Structure

This paper is organised into two main parts following a one week introduction. The final week concludes the course:

  • Introduction: What is justice?
  • Part 1: Justice and Quality of Life
  • Part II: Justice and Responsibilities
  • Conclusion: Reflection

Assessment is 100% internally assessed.

Teaching Arrangements

One 3-hour lecture per week.


No textbook is required.

Readings for class will be posted on Blackboard.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Communication, Cultural understanding, Environmental literacy, Research.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course you will be able to:

  • Understand key debates in relation to geographies of justice
  • Apply theoretical concepts of justice to real world injustices and communicate these ideas effectively to different audiences for different purposes
  • Evaluate contemporary issues and identify the complexities of intersecting in/justices for different groups in society
  • Evaluate how groups seek to address injustice and situate these approaches within theoretical understandings of contemporary global and local level politics and policy frameworks

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Not offered in 2023

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system