Paul G. Munro

I am a political ecologist and historical geographer in the Environmental Humanities Program at the University of New South Wales, Australia. I am also the co-founder of Energy For Opportunity (EFO), an NGO dedicated to the dissemination of renewable energy in the West African region.


I have been involved in teaching a broad range of social science, geography, environmental studies and development studies subjects at universities in Mexico and Australia. Currently, I lecture for subjects that are a part of the Environmental Humanities major at the University of New South Wales. Brief descriptions of these subjects are below, while more information about the Environmental Humanities major can be found here

Environment, Sustainability and Development (ARTS2240)

 Installing Solar Modules in Makeni, Sierra Leone.

Installing Solar Modules in Makeni, Sierra Leone.

Over the past century, human society has experienced remarkable change as technological innovation, economic growth and population have produced rapidly changing social and environmental landscapes. Such development is often seen a synonym of progress; however, over the past few decades it has been increasingly recognised that such rapid change has produced an uneven social geography – marginalise significant populations – while also intensively degrading and polluting different environments. Emerging as a response to this conundrum has been the concept of sustainability – an effort to redirect economic growth to produced more socially just and environmentally benign outcomes. Environment, Sustainability and Development critically examine the emergence of these environment and development dilemmas, adopting a historical and geographical approach. It explores some key contextual elements of environment, development and sustainability, including issues surrounding governance, contested perceptions of the environment and the role of commodity chains in shaping social and environmental outcomes. In also explores contemporary environmental debates surrounding environmental dilemmas and the paradigms that have emerged to address them. Finally the course explores a variety of environmental thematic issues (i.e., armed conflict, water, energy, natural disaster), including a focus on case studies in different geographical contexts (i.e., sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America; and Australia).

The Politics of Climate Change (ARTS2242)

 Photo taken by  Micheal Pinsky .

Photo taken by Micheal Pinsky.

Though climate change is typically understood as a scientific or environmental problem, that requires economic or technological solutions, it is perhaps better understood as a social, cultural and political phenomenon which is remaking the ways in which we understand our relationship with the Earth. How we understand climate, weather, nature and the environment are crucial for understanding contemporary global warming and our responses to it. The Politics of Climate Change begins from this proposition and examines the underlying politics of climate change. It is designed to equip students with a conceptual and methodological toolkit for interpreting and making sense of the social aspects of climate change and the often intense political arguments that surround it. It explores the history of climate science and the more recent emergence of a global consensus on anthropogenic global warming. The course goes onto to consider the persistence of climate change denialism and scepticism in the face of this consensus and the continuing controversy over the adequacy climate change science. 

Environmental Studies Capstone (ARTS3240)

 Getting a visit from a cockatoo in the Sydney Botanical Gardens during a Environmental Humanities Capstone fieldtrip.

Getting a visit from a cockatoo in the Sydney Botanical Gardens during a Environmental Humanities Capstone fieldtrip.

The Environmental Humanities Capstone is the final subject that students take as a part of their Environmental Humanities major at UNSW. A research skills focused subject, it allows students to drawn and build upon the conceptual ideas and literature that they have engaged with throughout their major. Student participate in research projects as a collective group, as will as having an opportunity to design their own independent research project that speaks to contemporary debates in the Environmental Humanities. This research project involves following “an organism”, or “an issue,” across several different sites in Sydney, situating the subject of their study within economic, scientific, and political networks. The subject include multiple field trips, introducing student to experts in the field and give them hands-on practice at conducting interviews and taking field notes. 

Disasters and Society (under proposal)

 Nepal Earthquake 2015: Photo taken by the  Asian Development Bank .

Nepal Earthquake 2015: Photo taken by the Asian Development Bank.

Disasters and Society is a new course that I am proposing at UNSW. It provides students with critical perspectives to examine the natural disasters/society interface. The emphasis of the course is focused on natural disasters being better understood as social disasters with natural triggers (or in some cases, such as with various famines, social and political triggers). The course examines how social, political and economic process shape social vulnerability to hazards, and thus the subsequent disaster impacts. It also considers natural disasters as disrupting events that can critically jolt and shape future social, economic and political outcomes in the context of governance and development. The course initially examines different social theories and frameworks for understanding disasters – how disasters has emerged as a critical field of study in the humanities and social science, and the different lens that have been used to make sense of disasters in the broader political economy of international development. This provides a critical platform for the second part of the course, which focuses on different thematic areas of disasters and society using case study disasters from around the world.

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