Global issues of environment, security and development have never been so important. A long war on terror with no end in sight, ongoing structural economic inequalities on a global scale, and the threat of climate change have brought questions of Western interventionary practices, neoliberalism and environmental sustainability to the fore. The MA in Environment, Society and Development is designed to enable students to synthesize both theoretical and practical concerns in bringing critical thinking to these vital challenges. The programme involves engagement with a number of core areas in critical human geography, including issues of geopolitics, development and political ecology, and exposes students to global concerns that encompass a complex and dynamic mesh of environmental, social and economic processes.
Running through the MA is an overarching aim to impart understanding of how different philosophical and ideological approaches to environment-society relations influence policy formulation and implementation. In this context, our hope is to empower students to become critically informed by, and ethically engaged with, the various geopolitical, social, economic and environmental processes that shape the world in which we live. The practical emphasis of the MA is reflected in a field-based learning module in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where students intersect with the development work of UN agencies, and range of CSOs and NGOs. In connecting with the work of UN agencies like the United Nations Development Programme, a key challenge for students involves thinking through the scalar nature of all forms of development, in which initiatives on the ground are framed by broader geopolitical, economic and institutional structures that both enable and hinder development in complex ways.
The programme will prepare students for a range of workplaces including government departments, non-governmental organizations, planning and environmental management agencies and specialist research and policy institutes. The transferable and problem-solving skills gained from the field-based learning practices embedded in all modules are a particular strength for graduates. Each year, students gain vital experience working on the ground in Bosnia and Herzegovina with a variety of international development practitioners and local community leaders. Since its inception, the programme has had ICOS and other international students from a range of countries, including Ethiopia, Germany, Italy, Malawi, Norway, Russia, Sri Lanka, UAE, UK, USA and Vietnam. Many have gone on to work in NGOs and UN agencies and, in addition, to pursue PhD research in leading Geography Departments across the world. In terms of a critical human geography Masters, the depth and breadth of the programme puts students in a very strong position in applying for PhDs, and post-MA we strongly encourage applications, internationally, nationally and here at NUI Galway, where Geography has strong research clusters in Geopolitics and Justice and Planning and Sustainability.