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UTVB3111 Energy and Climate Change in Africa and Latin America

The course description was approved 23.05.2013 by the Academic Affairs Committee, Faculty of Education and International Studies, and revised 30.04.2014. Revision approved by the leader of the Academic Affairs Committee on authorization 13.01.2015. Latest revision approved by the Academic Affairs Committee 11.05.2017. Reading list updated 01.06.2016. Valid from autumn semester 2017.


The Faculty of Education and International Studies at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences (HiOA) offers interdisciplinary courses in Development Studies and North-South relations, leading to a Bacherlor’s degree of 180 ECTS credits in Development Studies. This course on Energy and Climate Change in Africa and Latin America is at the intermediate level and represents a 10 ECTS credits module in the 5th semester of the Bachelor programme.

The course will be taught in English (or Norwegian, depending on needs according to the participants’ language abilities). The exam papers can be written in English, Norwegian, Swedish or Danish.

Admission Requirements

The course is open to students who have completed at least a one-year introductory course in Development Studies at either HiOA, the University of Agder or equivalent courses at other universities/university colleges in Norway or abroad.

Learning Outcome

At the end of the course the student has obtained the following learning outcome:


The student

  • has knowledge of key issues related to the production and distribution of energy in developing countries, for instance on:

­   competing claims and rights to energy producing territories;

­   contests over how to allocate the benefits and costs of such production among population groups (including indigenous peoples);

­   debates on how energy production interrelates with governance issues;

­   issues of access to energy;

­   theories of ‘the resource curse’.

  • has knowledge about the strategy to mitigate climate change through reducing emissions of CO2 by deforestation and forest degradation (REDD);
  • has knowledge on conflicts concerning uses of areas for local livelihood purposes on the one hand, and on the other for energy production, climate change mitigation and conservation;
  • has acquired empirical knowledge of cases of such conflicts in Latin America and Africa.


The student

  • has the ability to analyse conflicts between the interests of poor and marginalized groups, energy production and climate change mitigation and area conservation;
  • has the ability to analyse linkages between energy options and their developmental and environmental implications.

General competence

The student

  • is able to formulate central issues regarding climate change, human rights and the environment;
  • is able to discuss energy issues and their economic, political and environmental dimensions.


The course will cover key issues of development, energy and climate change. It will focus on conflicts concerning uses of areas for local livelihood purposes on the one hand, and on the other for energy production, climate change mitigation and conservation. These issues will be illustrated through empirical case studies from Africa and Latin America. Where relevant, the case studies will also relate to Norwegian development assistance programmes.

The following themes will be included:

  • Energy, society and climate
  • The resource curse
  • Oil in Africa
  • Oil for Development
  • Energy, land rights and indigenous rights in Latin America
  • Renewable energy in Latin America
  • Biofuels and the global land rush
  • REDD+ and carbon trading

Learning and Teaching Forms

The course will be running from late September until December (in parallel with the course Capitalist development and social transformation in India and China). There will be eight lectures and four teacher-led seminars. Students are expected to participate actively in group work and discussions during seminars.

Course Work Requirements

Written assignment

An assignment (2000 word +/- 10 %) on a given topic shall be submitted within the set deadline in order to be admitted to the final exam. This assignment gives the students an opportunity to reflect on central topics in the course literature.

Students, who due to illness or other compelling reason, fail to submit this course work requirement within the set deadline, can be given a new deadline. In this case, the student shall present the documents confirming his/her illness or other compelling reasons.

The assignment is evaluated with ‘accepted’ or ‘not accepted’. Students who get ‘not accepted’ on their assignment may rewrite and submit maximum two new versions of the assignment. The student shall contact the teacher to get a new evaluation.

Activities with compulsory attendance

It is compulsory to attend three of the four seminars. These are considered essential for developing skills and general competence, as they give the students the opportunity to verbalize, analyze and discuss key issues of the course. The group work on which the seminars are based require that the majority of students are present.

Students with undocumented absence from more than one of these seminars cannot take the exam. Students who have attended less than three of the seminars/lectures, but can document valid compelling reasons for all the absences, will have to submit a written paper on a given theme as compensation in order to be able to take the exam. The length of the paper shall be in the range of 2000-5000 words, depending on the number of seminars missed.


The assessment is a four-hour written exam based on the course curriculum. The exam will be assessed by one internal and one external examiner.

A graded scale from A to E for passed and F for not passed will be used. 
New/postponed exam

In case of failed exam or legal absence, the student can apply for a new or postponed exam. New or postponed exams are offered within a reasonable time span following the regular exam. The student is responsible for applying for a new exam within the time limits set by HiOA and the Faculty of Education and International Studies. Regulations for new or postponed examinations are available in Regulations relating to studies and examinations at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences. More information about registration and time for new or postponed examinations is available at the HIOA web site.


Revisions may occur and must be approved by the Head of Studies.

Tentative – to be revised.

All course material will be available, either in digital form on Fronter or in one reprint collection (“kompendium”) available at Akademika bookstore.


Introduction to energy

Hornborg, Alf (2013) ‘The Fossil Interlude: Euro-American Power and the Return of the Physiocrats’. In Strauss, Sarah; Stephanie Rupp and Thomas Love (eds.) Cultures of Energy: Power, Practices, Technologies. Walnut Creek, Ca: West Coast Press. 41-59 (19 pp)

Mitchell, Timothy (2009) ‘Carbon Democracy’ Economy and Society, Vol 38 (3): 399-432 (34 pp)

Murray, James, and David King. "Climate policy: Oil's tipping point has passed." Nature 481.7382 (2012): 433-435. (3 pp)

The Resource Curse

Di John, Jonathan (2011) ‘Is There Really a Resource Curse? A Critical Survey of Theory and Evidence’. Global Governance, 17: 167-184 (18 pp)

Hammond, John L. (2011) ‘The Resource Curse and Oil Revenues in Angola and Venezuela’. Science & Society, 75 (3): 348-378 (31 pp)

Hetland, Gabriel (2016) “Chavismo in Crisis”. NACLA Report on the Americas, 48 (1): 8-11 (4 pp)

Karl, Terry Lynn (2004) ‘Oil-Led Development: Social, Political and Economic Consequences’ Encyclopedia of Energy 4: 661-672 (12 pp)

Rossi, Carlos A. (2011) ‘Oil Wealth and the Resource Curse in Venezuela’ International Association for Energy Economics, Third Quarter: 11-15 (5 pp)

Oil in Africa

Obi, Cyril. 2010. Oil as the ‘curse of conflict in Africa: peering through the smoke and mirrors. Review of African Political Economy 37(126): pp 483-495. (10 pp)

Obi, Cyril I. 2011. Oil Extraction, Dispossession, Resistance, and Conflict in Nigeria’s Oil-Rich Niger Delta. Canadian Journal of Development Studies 30(1-2): pp 219-236. (16 pp)

Watts, Michael. 2011. Blood Oil: The anatomy of a Petro-insurgency in the Niger Delta, Nigeria. In: Andrea Behrends, Stephen P. Reyna and Günther Schlee (eds.): Crude Domination. An Anthropology of Oil. Berghahn Books. Chap. 3 pp. 49 – 80. (32 pp)

Oil for development

Kolstad, Ivar, Arne Wiig and Aled Williams (2009) ‘Mission improbable: Does petroleum-related aid address the resource curse?’ Energy Policy, 37: 954-965 (12 pp)

Norad (2007) Oil for Development. 1-20 (20 pp)

Ryggvik, Helge (2010) The Norwegian Oil Experience: A toolbox for managing resources? Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture (TIK – Centre), University of Oslo. Introduction (p 5-8), Chapter 6 ‘From a “moderate pace” to the world leaders in quick extraction’ (p 81-94), Concluding Remarks (p 111-113) (21 pp)

Solli, Audun (2011) ‘From Good Governance to Development? A Critical Perspective on the Case of Norway’s Oil for Development’ Forum for Development Studies, 38 (1): 65-85 (21 pp)

Energy, Land Rights and Indigenous Rights in Latin America

Bebbington, Denise Humphreys & Anthony J. Bebbington (2010): Extraction, Territory, and Inequalities: Gas in the Bolivian Chaco, Canadian Journal of Development Studies/Revue canadienne d'études du développement, 30:1-2, 259-280 (22 pp)

Borras, Saturnino M. Jr., Jennifer C Franco, Sergio Gómez, Cristobal Kay & Max Spoor (2012) ‘Land Grabbing in Latin America and the Caribbean’ Journal of Peasant Studies, 39 (3-4): 845-872 (28 pp)

Finer, Matt; Clinton N Jenkins; Stuart L Pimm; Brian Keane; Carl Ross (2008) ‘Oil and Gas Projects in the Western Amazon: Threats to Wilderness, Biodiversity, and Indigenous Peoples’. PLoS ONE 3(8): e2932. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002932 (9 pp)

Sawyer, Suzana (2007) ‘Empire/Multitude—State/Civil Society: Rethinking Topographies of Power Through Transnational Connectivity in Ecuador and Beyond’ Social Analysis, 51 (2): 64-85 (22 pp)

Stetson, George (2012) ‘Oil Politics and Indigenous Resistance in the Peruvian Amazon: The Rhetoric of Modernity Against the Reality of Coloniality’ Journal of Environment & Development, 21 (1): 76-97 (22 pp)

Renewables in Latin America

Hall, Anthony L and Sue Branford (2012) ‘Development, Dams and Dilma: The Saga of Belo Monte’ Critical Sociology, 38 (6): 851-862 (12 pp)

Howe, Cymene, Dominic Boyer & Edith Barrera (2015) ‘Wind at the Margins of the State: Autonomy and Renewable Energy Development in Southern Mexico’ In John McNeish, Axel Borchgrevink and Owen Logan (eds.) Contested Powers: The Politics of Energy and Development in Latin America and Beyond, London, Zed Books. (25 pp)

Millikan, Brent (2014) ‘The Amazon: Dirty dams, Dirty Politics and the Myth of Clean Energy’. Tipití: Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America, Vol. 12 ( 2): 134-137 (4 pp)

Oceransky, Sergio (2010) ‘Fighting the Enclosure of Wind: Indigenous Resistance to the Privatization of the Wind Resource in Southern Mexico’. In Kolya Abramsky (ed.) Sparking a Worldwide Energy Revolution: Social Struggles in the Transition to a Post-Petrol World Oakland: AK Press. 505-522 (18 pp)

Selfa, Teresa et al. (2015) ‘Interrogating Social Sustainability in the Biofuels Sector in Latin America: Tensions Between Global Standards and Local Experiences in Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia’ Environmental Management (2015) 56:1315–1329. (15 pp)

Vergara, Walter, Paul Isbell, Ana R. Rios, José Ramon Gómez and Leandro Alves (2014) Societal Benefits from Renewable Energy in Latin America and the Caribbean. Washington DC: Inter-American Development Bank. (28 pp)

Biofuel and the debate on the global land rush

Benjaminsen, T.A. and I. Bryceson. 2012. Conservation, green/blue grabbing and accumulation by dispossession in Tanzania. The Journal of Peasant Studies 39(2): 335-355. (17 pp.)

Boamah, F. 2014. Imageries of the contested concepts “land grabbing” and “land transactions”: Implications for biofuels investments in Ghana. Geoforum 54:324-334. (10 pp.)

Cotula, L. 2012. The international political economy of the global land rush: A critical appraisal of trends, scale, geography and drivers. The Journal of Peasant Studies 39(3-4): 649-680. (27 pp.)

Exner, Andreas, Lara E. Bartels, Markus Windhaber, Steffen Fritz, Linda See, Emilio Politti and Stephan Hochleithner. 2015. Constructing landscapes of value: Capitalist investment for the acquisition of marginal or unused land – The case of Tanzania. Land Use Policy 42:652-663. (11 pp.)

Kuchler, M. and B-O Linner. 2012. Challenging the food vs. fuel dilemma: Genealogical analysis of the biofuel discourse pursued by international organizations. Food Policy 37:581-588. (7 pp.)

Nelson, Fred, Emmanuel Sulle and Edward Lekaita. 2012. Land Grabbing and Political Transformation in Tanzania. Paper presented at the International Conference on Global Land Grabbing II, Oct. 17-19, Cornell University, 2012. Arr.: Land Deals Politics Initiative.  (20 pp.)

REDD and Carbon trading

Boucher, Doug. 2014. How Brazil has dramatically reduced tropical deforestation. Solutions 5 (2): 66-75. (10 pp)

Cabello, Joanna. 2009. The Politics of the Clean Development Mechanism: Hiding Capitalism Under the Green Rug. In: Böhm, Steffen & Siddhartha Dabhi (eds.): Upsetting the Offset. The Political Economy of Carbon Markets. MayFlyBooks. Pp. 192 – 202. (11pp)

Egede-Nissen, Bjørnar. 2014. Norway’s forest initiative: Between success and failure. Paper for the Canadian Political Science Association Annual Conference 2014. (21 pp)

Gilbertson, Tamra and Oscar Reyes. 2009. Carbon Trading: How it works and why it fails. Critical Currents. Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation Occasional Paper Series. Pp. 7 – 29. (23 pp) http://www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/sites/thecornerhouse.org.uk/files/OscarTamCarbonTrade.pdf

Matilya, G.J. 2012. Advancing REDD in the Kolo Hills Forest (ARKFor): progress, challenges, lessons and opportunities. Proceedings of the first Climate Change Impacts, Mitigation and Adaptation Programme Scientific Conference. Pp. 78 – 83 (6 pp)

(Literature list last updated: 11.05.2017)

About the course

Energi og klima i Afrika og Latin-Amerika Bachelor’s Programme in Development Studies 10 ECTS 5. semester English or Norwegian 2017-2018
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