Summer School 2017

Transformations that sustain life

Summer School on Degrowth and Environmental Justice

June 25th – July 7th 2017
Barcelona (Spain)/Cerbère (France)


Sustaining a life of diversity, fairness and justice requires transformations, or series of continuous transformations, slow and fast, big and small, throughout the entire spectrum of society. This is the thread that will put the Fourth edition of the Summer school on degrowth and environmental justice together. As in previous editions the school will be hosted by Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona/ICTA and organized in collaboration with Research & Degrowth.

Amidst the waves of political or institutional changes hinting at an increasing trend of closure and ‘otherness’, at a surge of violence, coupled with reactionary and conservative attitudes, this summer school will pursue the alternatives and narratives associated with deeper-level transformations. We will talk about the type of transformations that result in absolute reductions of material and energy throughput and in environmental crimes and social injustice but also – that provoke and facilitate transformations in the attitudes leading towards embracing differences and enhancing conviviality.

Over the days of the school, we will consequentially look at the roots of degrowth and environmental justice, while exploring alternatives and transformational paths: starting with alternatives to extractivism and extractivist politics; moving on to alternatives to growth-based modes of organizing production and consumption emerging at the level of the community in the South and in the North; this will involve exploring the role of the commons and the relations of care, and importantly – as emerging in various types of feminisms. Next, we will glimpse across the wider societal level, and in particular to the alternative and emerging approaches to governing the city. To this aim lessons will be drawn from the experiences of the civil platform governing Barcelona (Barcelona en Comú), in their attempts to bring across the diverse messages of social and sustainability movements into practice in a complex and hostile political climate. Finally, we will reflect on the alternatives to the macro-scale political alternatives: can a politics of degrowth exist on regional, national and sub-national scale?

This summer school will propose alternatives to the standard teaching methods, by working in small groups and introducing new ways of ‘sensing’ and ‘seeing’. While morning sessions will be dedicated to standard academic lectures followed by discussion, all afternoons will be devoted to participative workshops, where the contribution of participants will be sought and required. This will involve using practices such as landscape-reading, Forum Theater, and sensing journeys where our senses will be employed and used for understanding complex realities. Last but not least one day will be dedicated to a visit and exploration of a nearby environmental conflict, from where participants will move on to Can Masdéu an occupied peri-urban, semi-rural, intentional community and social center on the outskirts of Barcelona, dedicated to experiencing social and environmental sustainability.

Course structure and description

The first week of the course will take place at the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology (Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona), where the theoretical foundations of environmental justice and degrowth will be firstly laid out. Meanwhile we will explore exemplary projects and initiatives in the area which are both thought-provocing and relevant in the context of environmental justice and degrowth.

The second week of the course will take place in Cerbère, in association with Can Decreix, a project of Research & Degrowth dedicated to put degrowth into practice here and now. In the end of the summer school participants are expected to present an assignment covering the material taught and discussed over its course. Can Decreix can furthermore offer five to seven placements for individuals interested in staying one week longer and get immersed into the degrowth practice. Lets us know in your application whether you would like to apply for these.