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What is Global Justice? Students from Ohio University investigate

Visiting students from Ohio University on the Urban History and Urban Development study abroad programme consider 'Global Justice' and what it means to different audiences

'Place-Making and Making-Places' has been run as an overseas credit module at the University of Edinburgh for students from Ohio University for a number of years under the guidance of Human Geographer, Professor Geoff Buckley. The five-week summer school course is open to Honours and Masters students, providing an interdisciplinary introduction to the urban history of Edinburgh.


Water of Leith 1865 

[Water of Leith, 1865. Reproduced by kind permission of NLS Trustees]


Richard Rodger, Professor of Economic and Social History, has delivered the course since its inception - combining morning classroom sessions with afternoon fieldwork and site visits. In 2014, Dr Harriet Cornell from the Global Justice Academy, took on the role of Course Organiser. Richard Rodger is on research leave for his AHRC project 'Mapping Edinburgh's Social History'.

This year's cohort of nine students have strong interests in sustainability, the environment, social justice, and urban planning. For the final classroom session of the course, they were given the mammoth task of considering what 'Global Justice' means. A look at the GJA's 'About Us' section shows that this is no simple feat!

But there was opportunity to draw on the themes and topics covered during 'Place-Making and Making-Places', which resulted in some insightful and incisive conceptualisations of Economic Justice, Social Justice, Urban Justice, Gender Justice, and Environmental Justice.

Here is a snapshot of the questions they considered, and interpretations that were discussed:


What do you understand by these terms? What are the 'big issues'? Can you give any illustrative examples?

1) Economic Justice

  • Globalisation and world financial markets
  • Labour contracts (e.g. 'zero hours')
  • Underemployment
  • The supply chain
  • Influence of neo-liberalism
  • Distribution of wealth on a variety of scales, including global
  • The city: tensions and divisions based on interest (e.g. developer; tenant; conservationist)
  • Gentrification and urban living space
  • Poverty as the result of economic policies (e.g. austerity economies in cities - Athens)

2) Social Justice

  • Equality: class, race, gender, and age
  • Discrimination and prejudice
  • Laws to uphold and enforce social justice
  • Stigmas attached to certain groups
  • Abuse of power, leading to abuse of rights and social injustice
  • Unequal access to amenities, services and necessities
  • Unequal access to opportunities and information
  • Gentrification
  • Theoretical basis (e.g. economic, political, institutional)
  • Linked to hierarchies, including class

3) Urban Justice

  • Policies and management practices to protect the urban landscape
  • Land-use and planning
  • Cities as environments
  • Pressure on space and land
  • Public housing
  • Policing and security
  • Civic and civil governance
  • Transportation
  • Gentrification
  • Zoning
  • The re-use of space
  • Identification of urban environments based on function (e.g. manufacturing; financial)
  • Identification of urban environments based on tenants and people - neighbourhoods and ghettos

4) Gender Justice

  • Rights
  • Human Rights
  • Feminism
  • Patriarchy
  • Gender disparities (e.g. pay; education; occupational/economic sectors)
  • Stereotypes (e.g. religious; historic; familial and household)
  • Male stereotypes (e.g. male College students as sexual predators)
  • Occupational stereotypes (e.g. the 'ball-busting, female C.E.O.)
  • Women in education
  • Positive discrimination
  • Healthcare and reproductive rights
  • Bodies and personal rights
  • Sexual violence
  • Women and public space throughout history
  • Definitions of femininity and masculinity
  • LGBT rights and a broader spectrum of gender justice

5) Environmental Justice

  • Climate change
  • Climate change denial
  • Global warming and carbon emissions (including global trends and differences)
  • Energy: sustainability; availability of clean energy solutions/subsidies
  • The 'dark side' of clean energy (e.g. hydro-power)
  • Energy poverty
  • New technology (e.g. fracking)
  • Deforestation (biodiversity; displacement; implications of land-use) 
  • Intensive agricultural practices
  • Availability of resources (e.g. local water rights and Nestle; drought in California)
  • Resources as necessities and human rights
  • Education and access to information
  • Political responses to disasters and hazards (e.g. Katrina; Gulf oil spill)
  • Waste disposal practices and priorities
  • Access to the environment (e.g. parks and green space)
  • Wildlife protection and animal rights
  • Environment protection (e.g. national parks; World Heritage sites, including cities)

OU Students 2014 

Full acknowledgement goes to this year's OU students (left to right):

  • Christy Wiseman
  • Daniel Siegler
  • Leah Wilson
  • Nicaylen Rayasa
  • Sara Sand
  • Madison Collins
  • Janice Brewer
  • Christian Haskins
  • Rachel Zakem
  • Tony Vo


And thanks to this year's teaching team:

  • Geoff Buckley, Ohio University
  • Harriet Cornell, University of Edinburgh
  • Eisa Esfanjary Kenari, University of Edinburgh
  • Hamish Kallin, University of Edinburgh
  • Rebecca Madgin, Glasgow University
  • Tawny Paul, Northumbria University
  • Richard Rodger, University of Edinburgh
  • Niamh Shortt, University of Edinburgh
  • Marion Williams, Director of the Cockburn Association
  • Charlie Withers, University of Edinburgh