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Discourse and Sustainability


The Seminar Series "Discourse and Sustainability" is an international forum for presenting and discussing new, cutting edge, research on discourse and issues of sustainability, environment, climate change and ecology.

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Our next seminar takes place on 17th May 2024, 12 noon UK TIME, Nicolina Montesano Montessori (HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht): Towards a systemic, social ecological justice: ways forward for Critical Policy Discourse Analysis.

Please register here for the next webinar in our series: https://events.teams.microsoft.com/event/5abf2e66-14f9-4621-bda1-c590f68470b3@490a8197-7b83-4f10-89b9-83189be3835e


Recent work on the text oriented discourse analysis (TODA) of the UN 2030 Agenda of the sustainable development goals  (UN 2015) raised awareness to its shallow ecological ethics. As other imaginaries in the global world order, its discourse was detached from any particular context, it contains an absence of cause effect relations. Challenges such as ‘drought’, ‘social inequality’, ‘health threats’ and ‘violence’ are nominalized and listed as independent issues, thus avoiding the complexity of rethinking relations, causes and effects, or the unequal distribution of these- and other- problems.  

This paper interprets the UN Agenda as a continuation of a shallow ecology ethics which entails an anthropocentric worldview, an emphasis on economic growth as a sine qua non. The paper presents counterhegemonic narratives from COP 26, the voice of Prime Minister Mottly from Barbados and Txai Surui, an Amazon Activist, which shows traces of deep ecology ethics.

A shallow ecology is human-centered, considering humans as standing separate from and above nature. A deep ecology recognizes the interconnected and interdependent and organic nature of the world and the embeddedness of all living beings, including humans, as  elements of the ‘web of life’ (Capra and Luisi, 2014, p. 12).

This presentation, envisions the UN Agenda 2030 of the Sustainable Development Goals as an imaginary with the typical feature of complexity reduction. It presents problems with such forms of policy making and it presents suggestions for ways forward in CPDA to embracing complexity, creating an improved balance between a shallow and a deep ecology ethics, an open eye to an embodied epistemologies so as to open a more realistic road towards a social ecological justice carrying-capacity and the organic systemic nature of the bio-sphere.

Capra, F., and P.L. Luisi. 2014. The Systems View of Life. A Unifying Vision. Cambridge: University Press.

Montesano Montessori, N. (2023). Critical Policy Discourse Analysis. In: The Routledge Handbook of Discourse Analysis. Routledge. Pp. 610-624.

UN (United Nations) 2015a. Sustainable Development Goals: 17 Goals to Transform Our World. New York: UN Department of Public Information. Based on UNGA resolution A/RES/70/1 (25 September). https://sdgs.un.org (Last retrieved, March 8, 2024).


Programme Summer Term 2024

9th February 2024, 11 am UK time (note the different time): Rescheduled talk, Ben Clarke (University of Gothenburg) Wanting for a better climate of discussion on the environment: Patterns of impoliteness, transitivity and Engagement in online newsreader comments that receive uncivil replies - catch up here: https://youtu.be/4oAxX0OCdco

16th February 2024, 12 noon UK TIME, Jonathan Joseph (University of Bristol): Resilience, sustainability and the crisis of the Liberal International Order - catch up here: https://youtu.be/0NQniwwGZR4

15th March 2024, 12 noon UK TIME, Kelsey Campolong (Ulster University): Neoliberalism in the Glasgow Climate Pact: Interdiscursivity and Faux-Sustainability at COP26  - catch up here: https://youtu.be/4DJsghVbWBk

19th April 2024, 12 noon UK TIME, Robert Poole (University of Alabama): Investigating ecological change and climate crisis through diachronic corpus-assisted ecolinguistics - catch up here: https://youtu.be/Tz3ilma3qWY

17th May 2024, 12 noon UK TIME, Nicolina Montesano Montessori (HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht): TBC

7th June 2024, 12 noon UK TIME, Bernhard Forchtner (University of Leicester): TBC



The programme Winter Term 2023-2024:

20 October 2023, 12noon-1pm (note the different time) John Dryzek (University of Canberra) 'The Rise (and Fall?) of Grey Radicalism'

17 November 2023, 1-2pm, Tom Bartlett (University of Glasgow),  Just Transitions to sustainable practice - Is there a role for discourse analysts?

15 December 2023, 1-2pm, Anabella Carvalho (University of Minho), Political imaginaries and climate change

****POSTPONED**** Ben Clarke, (Göteborgs universitet), TBC