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GEOG376 Geographies of Contestation, Action and Change

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.

Contestation and social and environmental action are fundamental parts of a democratic society. Democratic ideals ensure that power is not abused; that equality, freedom and justice are core tenets of everyday life; and that basic needs are met. In this sense, democracy is understood in its traditional sense of 'power to the people'. Yet somehow, in contemporary society that seems idealistic. This paper will provide students with a critical understanding of the nature of contestation and action across scales and the opportunities and constraints that groups face in seeking a more equal and sustainable world in real political terms.

Paper title Geographies of Contestation, Action and Change
Paper code GEOG376
Subject Geography
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,092.15
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $5,004.75

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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: Dr Sophie Bond
Teaching Staff: Associate Professor Doug Hill

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

2 lectures per week and 7 x 50 minute tutorials scheduled over the 13 weeks of 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

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Wednesday 13:00-13:50 9-13, 15-18, 20-22
Thursday 13:00-13:50 9-13, 15-18, 20-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
T1 Monday 13:00-13:50 10-11, 13, 16, 20, 22
T2 Tuesday 15:00-15:50 13, 16, 20, 22
T3 Tuesday 12:00-12:50 10-11, 13, 16, 20, 22
T4 Tuesday 13:00-13:50 10-11, 13, 16, 20, 22
T5 Thursday 11:00-11:50 13, 16, 20, 22
T6 Thursday 15:00-15:50 10-11, 13, 16, 20, 22