Summer School “Politics Ontologies Ecologies”


Read more about this program on the institution's website

Program Description

Political ecology is a long-established interdisciplinary field, including various social sciences and humanities, aimed at investigating the interface of societies and the biophysical world as affected by, and in its turn affecting, the political order and related dynamics of conflict and cooperation, domination and emancipation. The overall stance is critical of capitalist economy, seen at the core of a socio-ecological (rather than just ecological) crisis that got growing evidence since the 1970s.

Political ecology also questions the (purportedly) apolitical outlooks that lead the debate and which assume that the problem can be addressed in politically neutral terms leaving unaccounted for the way science and technology intermingle with power and interests.

The emergence of the notion of Anthropocene, the acknowledgment of fast accelerating climate change and the worldwide spread of “environmental justice” mobilizations have in different ways stressed that the crisis cannot be effectively tackled, whether in terms of mitigation or adaptation, without addressing its social causes. This means looking at the interweaving of the various aspects (economic, scientific, regulatory, institutional, cultural, geopolitical etc.) that impinge on how the biophysical world (including the human body) is conceived, technologies are developed, value is extracted and the related benefits and costs, risks and uncertainties, are distributed across peoples, places, genders and generations.

Of particular relevance is to investigate ongoing transformations in the global order and governmental approaches, emergent technological landscapes and narratives of crisis and remedy, new social mobilizations and conflicting ontologies of the human and the nonhuman. This entails making a step forward, compared with traditional political ecology outlooks, which see as unproblematic and uncontentious the western ontology.

The summer school will provide an updated analysis of this problematic. Activities will be articulated in morning and afternoon sessions, combining lectures and group work with both a theoretical and an empirical perspective, focusing on analytical frameworks, research methods and experiences. Attendance will be evaluated in terms of active participation and personal contribution to collective work.

Should the restrictions on student mobility and on-site teaching activities persist, the program will be activated either in mixed mode (both online and in presence) or entirely online, via Microsoft Teams.


The Summer School will offer postgraduate and PhD students, and early career researchers the opportunity to interact with international scholars with a background in a variety of fields.

Basic purpose is to provide an advanced approach to the socio-environmental crisis, broadening the traditional political ecology outlook to encompass emergent ontological issues and coniflcts.

Topics addressed include:

  • Critical perspectives on the crisis (post-Marxist, de/post-colonial, feminist, etc.)
  • Environmental justice, ontological struggles and everyday environmentalism in the global North and South
  • Innovation and the transformation of capitalism: emergent technologies and new arrangements of production and reproduction
  • Climate change, pandemics, catastrophism, governance of emergencies and anticipations
  • Just transition, work and sustainable welfare
  • Growth, limits and de/post-growth
  • The Anthropocene as risk and opportunity for socio-ecological change
  • Value, valuation and valorisation
  • Alternative economies and conceptions of economy
  • Plural ontologies, "more-than-human” ecologies and ecologies of care

Who can apply

Applicants should hold a BSc, MSc or PhD in social and political sciences and humanities.

Curricula in natural sciences and science and technology studies may be eligible as well.



Program Intensity





250 euro


5 - 9 July 2021

Application Deadline

2 April 2021


Prof. Luigi Pellizzoni 

Summer/Winter School Office 

Last updated Dec 2020

About the School

The University of Pisa is a public institution boasting twenty departments, with high level research centres in the sectors of agriculture, astrophysics, computer science, engineering, medicine and ve ... Read More

The University of Pisa is a public institution boasting twenty departments, with high level research centres in the sectors of agriculture, astrophysics, computer science, engineering, medicine and veterinary medicine. Read less
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