Environmental Studies Certificate Program (EN)

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How to Make the World a Better Place: Utopianism in Theory and Practice

Seminar by Philipp P. Thapa

04.11.2020 – 10.02.2021

People who engage in environmental studies often strive not only to understand the world but to improve it. In response, this seminar introduces utopianism as a methodical framework for making the world a better place. Utopias, in a traditional sense, are imaginary better places. So the task at hand might be re-described as making our actual world more closely resemble a utopia. The question is, how, and also why (this utopia and not a different one)? Based on relevant readings, the introductory section of the course traces the theory, history, and ethics of utopianism to some of its current incarnations including environmentalism and climate activism. An excursion will provide an opportunity to discuss our questions in relation to a concrete utopian project in the Munich region, with the people engaged in it. Subsequently, small teams of students will work on cases of their own choosing. The goal is to co-create an e-book of essays, interviews, etc. by the end of the semester. As in a writing group, weekly sessions will serve to discuss drafts and to address questions of content, method, form, and language as needed. Complete drafts of student contributions are due in late January, and the book will be put together in the semester break. This gives us time, in the final two sessions, to synthesize our findings, re-consider readings in their light, and reflect on our own experience of co-creation.


  • Language: English
  • ECTS: 6 ECTS Points
  • Timeframe: 2 hours per week
  • Dates: Wednesdays, 4 pm - 6 pm (tbc)
  • Online via Moodle and Zoom
  • Registration online: 12.10.2020 until 26.10.2020
  • Belegnummer: 14803