Master of Arts in Environmental Security and Peace

Programme Coordinator

Mr. Marciale Kamugisha


Environmental studies related to security and peace are increasingly becoming important and gaining prominent recognition in the academic arena and more so in attracting the attention of civil societies in the world over, in particular developing countries. This lies within the context of understanding that environment is central to life in general, which from the ethical perspective requires humanity to be critical on the way environment and natural resources are treated and managed. This comes after realizing that uncontrolled activities of human beings are causing more harm than good to the environment and natural resources.


Concerted efforts at various levels have been concerned about and deliberating on environmental issues, as a result of overwhelming environmental  crises and challenges that have adverse effects on the planet. A lot of international conferences have been held to deliberate on global environmental issues. The United Nations Conference known as the Stockholm on the Human Environment held in 1972, which drew together both developed and developing countries became an event that considered environment as a major issue. The deliberation at this conference resulted into the birth of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) in 1972 whose  mission is “to promote leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of the future generation” (UNEP, 2004). Since then environmental security and peace issues have gradually and increasingly attracted the global concern.


In spite of several initiatives, environmental crises due to many factors remain a key security and peace challenge to sustainable development.  And despite the growing number of institutions and processes addressing sustainable development, environmental problems have intensified globally, with a significant and irreversible loss in the diversity of life on Earth (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005). Environment and natural resources continue to be threatened. Among other factors, the impact of climate change on environment and natural resources cannot be underscored. The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) few years ago predicted a graver effect of climate change on Africa than on any other continent.


Uganda has also witnessed several conflicts with neighbouring countries over natural resources. Under the international conventions and protocols, Uganda and neighbouring countries need to put in place effective mechanisms and strategies to manage, guide and harmonize equitable use of trans-boundary natural resources peacefully.


There is need for a new pedagogy today that emphasizes teacher-student learning environment that is ready to invest adequate resources as part of the process aimed at understanding the current environmental crisis and taking appropriate action. The pedagogy should not only stress theoretical perspective but it should be made educationally and ethically imperative to begin emphasizing the practicability of the knowledge and theories  received whose ultimate goal is to make a difference in the way humanity relates with environment. In order to realize this, there is a call to essentially judge the extent to which all human institutions, programs and activities inhibit, ignore or foster a mutually enriching human-earth relationship.


It is hoped that the introduction and teaching of this Masters Programme in Environmental Security and Peace will become a very important and interesting opportunity for the students in the 21st century to learn more about our world and the environment in which we live. It will act as a key eye opener not only to the students but also to the governments and the civil society, to begin reflecting intensively on the possibilities of reversing the current environmental crises and preventing further ecological crisis. Ultimately, if the human beings and other species have to survive by living in a secure and peaceful environment, there is a need to encourage students of today to become both genuine scholars and professional practitioners of the environment. As the present generation, we do not have to be naive and insensitive to our natural environment, mismanage it, enjoy its fruits and simply walk through but we should be able to approach it with passion. It is essential for the present generation to begin orienting to our natural environment and building environmental consciousness as a means of successfully managing the environmental challenges humanity has created.


Objectives of the Programme

  1. To define key concepts applied in the study of environmental security and peace.
  2. To explain current environmental issues and complexes faced within the field of environment.
  3. To identify the effects of environmental stress and climate change on human livelihoods, health and fulfillment of basic needs, and on the sustainability of ecosystems.
  4. To explain environmental governance and leadership necessary for contributing towards making a difference in the world.
  5. To analyze environmental policy and enhance students’ capacity in designing policies which reduce the threats to peace.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  1. To define key concepts applied in the study of environmental security and peace.
  2. To explain current environmental issues and complexes faced within the field of environment.
  3. To identify the effects of environmental stress and climate change on human livelihoods, health and fulfillment of basic needs, and on the sustainability of ecosystems.
  4. To explain environmental governance and leadership necessary for contributing towards making a difference in the world.
  5. To analyze environmental policy and enhance students’ capacity in designing policies which reduce threats to peace.

Entry Requirements

The programme is open to all qualified candidates on the basis of the following demands:

  • Those who have first class and second upper in an accredited bachelor’s degree programme in the social sciences (anthropology, geography, political sciences, development studies, and similar degrees), environmental sciences/studies, or some combination of the above.
  • Preferably possession of 2-3 years or more of relevant experience in areas related to the programme.
  • English proficiency is mandatory.
  • Ability to demonstrate a clear motivation towards the analysis or management of environmental issues that affect the livelihoods and security of people, communities or countries and a convincing vision of the role of this programme in their future career.



Course Units

ESP 3101: Introduction to Environmental Security

This course will provide an overview of key diverse environmental perspectives, theories and concepts that are very vital to the understanding of the field of environmental security and peace, current human–induced environmental changes affecting humanity and other species.

The course begins by defining key concepts of international relations and other concepts relevant to the course, with a thorough  review of historical dimensions of global environmental change and considerations that focus on the way in which humans have altered the world around them and how they are together with other species  being affected by the overwhelming consequences. It will explore the discourses concerning the changing conceptions of peace and security, and the debates over integrating environmental security. The course will also explore debates on the role the nation-state, science and politics have played in the current environmental change. It will further pay attention to worldviews and standpoints on environmental security issues.


ESP 3102: Research in Environmental Security and Peace

This course is intended to enable students build theoretical knowledge and applied skills in carrying out qualitative and participatory research in various areas related to environmental security and peace, addressing issues, challenges and emerging trends in the contemporary world. It provides students with foundational knowledge of research theory, and adequate room for discussing research methods and tools. Students are supposed to choose specific and relevant research topics related to the field of Environmental Security and Peace that will later create meaning and lead to making a difference in human-nature interaction. This course is to enable students to formulate research problems, select research methodology, and discuss existing views in the wider research community.


ESP 3103: Environmental Peace Seminar

This course aims at enabling students to understand Government Ministries, Local Government, organizations, and institutions and their programs related to the environment and natural resources. The laws and policies, roles, challenges and attempts made to overcome those challenges will be given special attention.The seminar encompasses visiting ministries, institutions and discussing their agendas, objectives, roles and challenges in the domain of environmental management, sustainable development and peace building through environmental cooperation. The seminar will avail students an opportunity to interact with different stakeholders and discuss the possibilities of internship with some of the ministries and institutions.At the end of the seminar, students will be asked to choose one of the institutions visited and write a comprehensive report following the instructions given by the Lecturer in charge of the proposed seminar.


ESP 3104: Environmental Governance

This course is developed to enable students to understand the concept of environmental governance and gain knowledge of the existing institutions and the legal framework for environmental governance. Emphasis will be placed on the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), its role, mission, relevance in the context of global environmental security and peace as well as challenges it encounters. The course focuses on the capacity and role of local communities and society to design solutions to environmental problems as well as differing roles of the civil society in contributing to effective environmental governance. It considers leadership and participatory budgeting as a major key to environmental governance.

ESP 3105: Water Security and Peace

Water is a critical resource for sustainable development.The issue of conflict and cooperation over environment and natural resources, in particular water as a result of resource scarcity draws attention to the current debates and discussions over trans-boundary natural resources. While many scholars have predicted wars over water in the 21stcentury, there are some scholars who instead see water as something leading to cooperation and peace. This course is designed in such a way that it provides room for students to understand water related concepts and theories from various perspectives, to analyze critically freshwater scarcity as a source of conflict and cooperation. It further engages them to give, through their own lenses, personal understanding and positions on the possibility of the next wars being over water instead of oil. The course enables students to explore various global, regional, national and local situations that have impact on water resource management and development that can trigger conflict or cooperation.


ESP 3106: Ecosystem Management and Stewardship Ethics

The course is designed for students to explore the rationale behind placing strong emphasis on healthy ecosystems without which it becomes futile and difficult to achieve MDGs. The course’s point of departure is that proper governance of ecosystems from an ethical perspective in many countries has been overlooked, and environmental sustainability itself has not been given much attention like other MDGs in many countries yet it is the most important of all the other millennium goals. The course goes further to examine stewardship aspects and approaches some issues with reference to the Earth Charter as an important instrument relevant to the promotion of environmental sustainability. The course also tasks students to examine challenges and complexities that are hindering most countries especially in Africa to achieve environmental sustainability, which makes it hard to achieve other MDGs and sustainable development at large.


ESP: 3108 Environment and Sustainability

The course is designed to engage students in conceptualizing and understanding the concept of environmental sustainability, interconnectedness, interdependence, system thinking, and the origin of sustainable development, and how environment can sustainably be put to use to meet human needs without compromising the needs of the future generations and what needs to be done to hold the planet in equilibrium. The course is a deep examination of the principles of sustainability, with the aim of understanding the integrated approach of sustainable development and it will offer space for students to reflect and discuss the key principles of sustainable development. In addition, the course will help students to understand the complexity of the world we live in and the challenges for keeping it in balance, not only ecologically but also socially and economically as well.

The course will guide students to understand Environmental Policy Integration (EPI), the existing problems and challenges stemming from a number of socio-economic, political and cultural situations that extremely contribute to environmental crisis on a global scale and how this is associated with unregulated anthropogenic habits.

ESP: 3109 Food Security, Migration and Conflict

This course is designed to engage students in the current discourse about the relationship between food security, and conflict, and how this is related to migration, and if there is no clear and comprehensive/well elaborated environmental governance framework, how this can lead to ecological crisis and subsequent problems as well as challenges associated with poverty. The course examines cases of local conflicts from some developing countries particularly Uganda, with the purpose of teasing out the relationship between variables under the study. It further wants to demonstrate how poverty associated with poor farming and agricultural practices can starkly impact on environment and food security hence fuelling conflicts. The course challenges students to think beyond the normal common paradigm and unearth why many countries have always remained food insecure, while suggesting the ultimate strategy for ending food insecurity and minimizing poverty levels as well as promoting environmental sustainability.


ESP 3210: Disaster Preparedness and Risk Reduction

Many countries in the world including Uganda, Philippines, Kenya and RDC etc have been starkly devastated by disasters and exposed to high rates of environmental risks.This course is designed to focus on global catastrophes stemming from human and natural phenomenon. It also focuses on geographical and environmental parameters that contribute to increased risks and vulnerabilities and a precise discussion of the socio-economic causes of disasters, consequences and challenges faced in the process of pursuing a peaceful environment and sustainable development.  The course probes into the possibility of developing skills, mechanisms and ability that could lead to disaster mitigation, reduction or prevention.


ESP3211: African Environmental Management and Peace Building

Although natural resources have been used to fuel and maintain violent conflicts on the African continent, to the contrary, they have a critical role to play in peace building. Most important to understand is that traditional Africans have their own means of managing, conserving and preserving the natural environment.


This course is oriented towards enabling students to explore African traditions and other means for managing, preserving and conserving natural resources in a sustainable manner and their role in peace building. The course will also engage students in investigating and analyzing challenges to indigenous African knowledge of environmental management and conservation. The course will also attempt to focus on the possibility of environmental cooperation and initiatives in the contemporary Africa for preventing new forms of violence but aiming at making environmental security and peace a historical reality.


ESP 3212: War, Population Growth and Ecosystems

This course is designed to engage students in exploring challenges posed by war on the environment including effects of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) on ecosystems. The course will focus on global overview of refuges and IDPs, responsible factors, national policies and several initiatives and effort towards responding to the issues of refugees and IDPs particularly in Africa with reference to the Great Lakes Region in Africa. It will also take consideration of the effect of war on women’s source of livelihood. The course will draw specific examples from some countries within the Great Lakes Region.

ESP 3213: Forests, Poverty, Trade and Conflicts

World regions, in particular Africa, are facing complex situation often characterized by violent conflicts and poverty as a result of continuous loss of natural resources at high rates. Forests are considered one of the most affected natural resources due to illegal logging, which subsequently leads to poverty among the poor and people at the periphery. Some tropical forests continue to suffer accelerated deforestation mainly at the hands of foreign companies. Nation-states most often conflict with environmental activists, civil society, citizens and local communities over mismanagement and illegal exploitation of natural resources in particular forests.This course is designed to enable students to know the causes and consequences of illegal logging, with a special focus on Africa. It engages them in attempting to understand whether the poor have benefited from the forest products.


ESP 3214: Sustainable Tourism and Development

Tourism is increasingly gaining momentum and becoming a prominent resource and avenue for national and private income generation. However, most often, it ends compromising environment and causing conflicts between local communities and governments. Security and peace are pre-requisites for sustainable development through sustainable tourism that is relevant to local needs. To the contrary, mass tourism is seen to be non responsive to  relevantly respond to the needs of the local people and being so harmful to the physical environment and human security through poor resource management, marginalization of the local communities and conflicts.


ESP 3215: Urban Environmental Management

The course examines human and ecological security issues emanating from trends towards increasing urbanization, including contaminated water, poor air quality, poor housing, transportation and sanitation, and overload of waste management facilities due to accelerated consumption, among others. The course also shows how severe urban environment as a result of poor management generates consequences that heavily impact on human health and above all working towards sustainable development. As a measure to such urban environmental security problems and consequences, the course provides a broader perspective, which places urban environmental insecurity, health and management problems in the larger context of domestic and international economy. It focuses on the evolution of urban infrastructure, the seat of power, as entity reshaping the landscape surrounding it, as a contrast to the country, and as economic magnet and domain of conscientious consumer and political communities. It addresses how these attributes of the city generate specific perceptions about the use of resources both in the neighborhood of the city and the wider domain of its influence (or control) and how these most often result in environmental insecurity in the country, which ultimately affects human life in the city. The course also demonstrates specific cases of practices/activities that contribute to adequate cities’ management and sustainability, while suggesting alternative strategies for creating for a more liveable urban environment.

ESP 3216: Climate Change, Natural Resources and Conflicts

Climate change is perceived as a threat to the environment and as a trigger of conflicts.The course is designed to enable students to be familiar with what climate change is, concepts and its impact on natural resources and how it is linked to conflicts over natural resources, and to explore necessary measures. More specific examples of the impact of climate change on natural resources in the developing countries will be critically explored and examined for further understanding and knowing what is happening in the world.

The course will engage students to know the magnitude of greenhouse effect as a result of the level of what the world population knows about climate change. The course goes further to enable students to gain knowledge of IPCC and its position on climate change. Finally the course will challenge students to explore necessary measurers and suggest which direction governments should go. For further probing into the study at a deeper level, a guest speaker will be invited to give more challenging issues posed by limited knowledge of the science of climate change.


ESP 3217: Environment and Energy

The course is designed to engage students in discourses aimed at exploring the impact of the energy sector on environment as well as how society at large has misused environment, including environmental, social and economic costs mainly in the developing countries. The course inspires and challenges students to question whether mega projects such as hydro power provide a solution to environmentally related problems and if not to propose alternative sources of power that are environmentally friendly and less costly even affordable by the poor in  developing countries. It will consider the potential and role of civil societies in the energy sector and the extent to which they can influence governments to have a paradigm shift to alternative sources of power, in addition to the policy process. The course goes further to engage students in discussing current challenges to putting in place alternative sources of power in the developing countries mainly in Africa which have resulted in the deterioration and total disappearance of important natural resources such as lakes and forests.


ESP 3218: Environmental Law and Public Policy

Environmental law and public policy play a key role in the pursuant of environmental security and peace. This necessitates the involvement of every actor right away from the grassroots in the enforcement of law and policy process.   This course, therefore, is designed to engage students in understanding the law that governs and regulates the use of environment as well as policy process. Sometimes the law and policy implementation becomes ineffective especially in the arenas of what humans do and the way they act upon natural resources which has subsequent adverse effects not only on human dimensions of development but also on other forms of life. The course will, therefore, consider how far has the law and policy helped in the struggle to attain environmental security and peace. The course will further consider the inclusiveness of environmental law and policy process, and the entry point for non-state actor involvement in environmental management in case the law and policy process are exclusive. Among other things, the course engages students to explore   home-grown measures to counteract bad environmental practices in Africa.


ESP 3219: Environment, Security, and Gender

We live in an age when the accumulation of wealth is greater and in the hands of a few people while the majority of the world’s population is living in abject poverty, a situation that often leads to conflicts. There has been a lot of debate on the link between women and the environment and whether women have an opportunity like men to engage in environmental practices and works. This course is therefore designed for students to examine the relationship between environmental security and gender and addresses the necessity of including gender into the approaches on the environment and security. The course also focuses on women’s special role in protecting biodiversity and in environmentally sustainable use of natural resources. The course focuses on feminists’ debate on the analysis of women’s use and conservation of natural resources and whether this has created impact on the status of environment.


ESP 3220: Environmental Education and Peace

Education is an essential instrument central to the promotion and pursuing of environmental security, peace, sustainability and sustainable development. The world especially developing countries have begun facing environmental catastrophes resulting from anthropogenic activities and unethical actions upon the environment and absence of mechanisms to deal with non-human induced events that continue to be a thorn in the process of sustainable development. This is attributed to the current education system that seems not to be responsive to environmental needs and issues that if not attended to breed severe threats to humanity and other species.


The course is designed to enable students to conceptualize the necessity of environmental education in the process of searching for environmental sustainability, sustainable development and peace. The course engages students to comprehend and internalize discourses in relation to the environment and to consider whether the current education system inspires humanity to harmonize its interaction with nature, and if not what needs to be done or what kind of education we need to embrace that aims at positive environmental change.