Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Good health and well-being Decent work and economic growth Reduced inequalities Climate Action

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the students: - know the main controversies conveyed by the notion of Anthropocene - know the main aspects of the sociological critique of global ecological crises - know the main problems concerning socio-environmental degradation, especially industry-driven - master the sociological dimension of the ecology-labour nexus, and of its associated union dynamics - know the key-elements of debates about ecological transition and climate justice.

Course contents

The course aims to critically question the notion of the Anthropocene, that is, the idea that anthropogenic impacts on the composition and functions of the Earth-system have now reached a magnitude that justifies a "scandalous" hypothesis, one that would be unthinkable even only a few decades ago: the human species has turned itself into a planetary geological force.

The overarching analytical framework will be provided by political ecology, an approach developed in the second half of the Twentieth century and currently at the centre of an original debate. In general, a historicization of the relationship between society and nature will be proposed through the distinction between environmental degradation - a phenomenon found in all societies, everywhere and at all times - and ecological crisis - a peculiar imbalance caused by accumulation as an unavoidable dynamic of capitalist development.

The implications of such an eco-political critique of the Anthropocene on the notion of work - and on its sociological dimensions - will be the focus of reflection in the second part of the course. In particular, we will emphasise the transformation of trade union platforms starting from an unprecedented interest in environmental dynamics - most notably climate change.


The course is structured around the following books:

Leonardi, Emanuele, Lavoro Natura Valore: André Gorz tra marxismo e decrescita, Orthotes, Napoli-Salerno, 2017.

Räthzel, Nora; Stevis, Dimitris; Uzzell, David (Eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Environmental Labour Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2021.


Other texts will be discussed:

Aronoff, Kate; Battistoni, Alyssa; Cohen, Daniel Aldana; Riofrancos, Thea, A Planet to Win. Perché ci serve un Green New Deal, Momo edizioni, Roma.

Asara, Viviana, Democrazia senza crescita. L'ecologia politica del movimento degli Indignados, Aracne, Roma, 2021.

Avallone, Gennaro, ‘L’ecologia-mondo capitalistica: tra accumulazione per appropriazione e processi di spazializzazione del capitale’, Sociologia Urbana e Rurale, 120: 47-61, 2019.

Barca, Stefania, Forces of Reproduction. Notes for a Counter-hegemonic Anthropocene, Cambridge University Press, 2020.

Barca, Stefania; Chertkovskaya, Ekaterina & Paulsson, Alex (eds.), Towards a Political Economy of Degrowth, Rowman and Littlefield, London, 2019.

Benegiamo, Maura, La terra dentro il capitale. Conflitti, crisi ecologica e sviluppo nel delta del Senegal, Orthotes, Napoli-Salerno, 2021.

Brocchieri, Federico, I negoziati sul clima. Styoria, dinamiche e futuro degli accordi sul cambiamento climatico, Edizioni Ambiente, Milano, 2020.

Capone, Nicola, Lo spazio e la norma. Per una ecologia politica del diritto, ombre corte, Verona, 2020.

Federici, Silvia, Reincantare il mondo. Femminismo e politica dei "commons". ombre corte, Verona, 2018.

Fieramonte, Valeria, La via di Laura Conti. Ecologia, politica e cultura a servizio della democrazia, Società per l'enciclopedia delle donne, Milano, 2021.

Fragnito, Maddalena; Tola, Miriam, Ecologie della cura. Prospettive transfemministe, Orthotes, Napoli-Salerno, 2021.

Giardini, Federica; Pierallini, Sara; Tomasello, Federica, La natura dell'economia. Femminismo, economia politica, ecologia. DeriveApprodi, Roma, 2020.

Jacobsen, Stefan Gaarsmand (ed.), Climate Justice and the Economy. Social Mobilization, Knowledge and the Political, Routledge, New York, 2018.

Keucheyan, Razmig, I bisogni artificiali. Come uscire dal consumismo, ombre corte, Verona, 2021.

Kothari, Ashish; Salleh, Ariel; Escobar, Arturo; Demaria, Federico & Acosta, Alberto (eds.), Pluriverseo: Dizionario del post-sviluppo, Orthotes, Napoli-Salerno, 2021.

L'Abbate, Patty, Una nuova economia ecologica. Oltre il Covid-19 e il cambiamento climatico, Edizioni Ambiente, Milano, 2020.

Merchant, Carolyn, La morte della natura. Donne, ecologia e Rivoluzione scientifica, Garzanti, Milano, 1988 [1980].

Merchant, Carolyn, Autonomous Nature. Problems of Prediction and Control From Ancient Times to the Scientific Revolution, Routledge, New York, 2016.

Malm, Andreas, Fossil Capital, Verso, London, 2016.

Mazzucato, Mariana, Non sprechiamo questa crisi, Laterza, Bari-Roma, 2020.

Missiroli, Paolo, Teoria critica dell'Antropocene. Vivere dopo la Terra, vivere nella Terra. Mimesis, Milano-Udine, 2022.

Moore, Jason, Antropocene o Capitalocene? Scenari di ecologia-mondo nella crisi planetaria, ombre corte, Verona, 2017.

O'Connor, James, La seconda contraddizione del capitalismo. Introduzione a una teoria e storia dell'ecologia, ombre corte, Verona, 2021 [1988].

Paccino, Dario, L’imbroglio ecologico. L'ideologia della natura, ombre corte, Verona, 2021 [1972].

Pellizzoni, Luigi, Ontological Politics in a Disposable World. The New Mastery of Nature, Routledge, New York, 2019.

Pinkus, Karen, Carburanti. Dizionario per un pianeta in crisi, ombre corte, Verona, 2021.

Ribatti, Domenico, Giulio A. Maccacro, scienziato militante. Carocci, Roma, 2021.

Raworth, Kate, L'economia della ciambella, Edizioni Ambiente, Milano, 2017.

Stahel, Walter, Economia circolare per tutti, Edizioni Ambiente, Milano, 2019.

Stiegler, Bernard, Q’appelle-t-on panser? 2. La leçon de Greta Thunberg, Les Liens que Liberent, Paris, 2020.

Wallace, Rob, Dead Epidemiologists, Monthly Review Press, 2021.

Teaching methods

The course integrates different teaching methods: frontal lessons; interactive lessons; watching, commenting and discussing films and documentaries; presentations and debates starting from the analysis of particular forms of mobilization. The course also includes the participation of scholars and experts in the field.

Assessment methods

The preparation of the exam for both attending and non-attending students consists of a general preparatory work (reading materials and study of the topics covered in the lesson) and of an in-depth written analysis (article/short essay).

For the thematic in-depth study:
Students will have to write a short article/essay that deals with one of the topics analyzed in class using verified and critical in-depth sources. The article, with a length of min 10.000 /max 15.000 characters (including spaces), should be sent by e-mail at least 10 days before the exam and will be discussed orally during the exam. Exclusively for the attending students, research and in-depth study work for small groups (2-3 people max) can also be allowed, as long as the article clearly indicates each individual contribution (the length of the article must be proportional to the number of people involved).
The article/short essay, which is the kernel of evaluation, will be judged on the basis of the following criteria:
-coherence with the course topics;
-originality in the analytical approach;
-capability of deepening, problematizing and critically discussing of the chosen subject;
-wideness and appropriateness of the bibliographical and documentary references compared to the in-depth literature used and to the course materials;
-ability to write properly - from a scientific perspective.

The evaluation consists of an interactive discussion around the contents of the article.

It will be considered insufficient the student who has not carried out the research and personal study required or who does not demonstrate an adequate understanding of the problem analyzed or the underlying themes of the course.
It will be considered sufficient or discreet the student who has diligently carried out the research and personal study and who proves to be able to properly handle the concepts dealt with in class.
It will be considered good or very good the student who in the treatment and discussion will show a greater capacity for elaboration and critical analysis.
It will be considered excellent the student who will have explored the subject in a more in-depth and autonomous way by verifying the sources.
The grade will be expressed in thirtieth and will be communicated at the end of the test itself.

Teaching tools

documentaries and video clips

Office hours

See the website of Emanuele Leonardi