How can we transform our climate futures?

Taking action on climate change and loss of biodiversity must be a priority, given there is clear evidence that we have drawn too heavily on environmental assets.

Baroness Minouche Shafik

How can we transform our climate futures? How can we transform our climate futures?
Watch our theme trailer: How can we transform our climate futures?

In the ‘How can we transform our climate futures?’ theme, you will investigate how social scientific research can inform our responses to climate change. With ambitious vision and decisive action, there is still time to reach the international community's aim of limiting global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Amid competing ideas of what a net zero world would entail, we ask: how should we reshape our political, economic, social and legal systems to meet the needs of a sustainable future? In what ways should we act on climate change to create thriving and inclusive communities on both local and global scales?

This theme explores questions of agency, responsibility, and solidarity to better understand the complex systems that combine to threaten the future of our environment. What are the planetary limits of economic growth? Will a circular approach transform our economies for the better, or will it put too much power in the hands of the market? How do patterns of waste and consumption reinforce colonial narratives and widen global inequalities?

Throughout LSE100, you will investigate the ways in which systems are being transformed by a changing climate as you consider how we might tackle the challenges that lie ahead. You will learn to use the tools and frameworks of systems thinking in order to analyse the impacts of environmental degradation, broaden your intellectual experience, and deepen your understanding of your own discipline as you test theories, evidence and ideas from different disciplinary perspectives.


7 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the Autumn Term. 7 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the Winter Term.

90-minute seminars take place in alternate weeks. Students will attend an LSE100 seminar in either weeks 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 or weeks 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 of both Autumn and Winter term.

AT: Seminar – 5 x 90min

WT: Seminar – 5 x 90min

In addition to seminars students will engage with bespoke video lectures featuring academics from across the School (approx. 20 minutes per seminar).

Indicative reading

Jason Hickel (2021) Less is More: how degrowth will save the world (London: Penguin Random House)

Elinor Ostrom (2008). ‘Tragedy of the commons’, in Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume (eds.) The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, 2nd edition.

Kate Ervine (2012). ‘The politics and practice of carbon offsetting: Silencing dissent’. New Political Science, 34(1), pp.1-20.

Camila Moreno, Daniel Speich Chasse & Lili Fuhr (2016). Carbon Metrics: global abstractions and ecological epistemicide (Heinrich Boll Stiftung: Publication Series Ecology, Vol.42).

Jessie Kindig (ed.) (2022). Property Will Cost Us the Earth: Direct Action and the Future of the Global Climate Movement. (London: Verso)

Naomi Klein (2014). This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate, (London: Allen Lane)

Murray, A., Skene, K. & Haynes, K. (2017). ‘The Circular Economy: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of the Concept and Application in a Global Context’. J Bus Ethics, 140, 369–380.

Walter R. Stahel (2016). ‘The circular economy’. Nature 531, 435–438.

Oran R. Young (2017). ‘The age of complexity’ in Governing Complex Systems: Social Capital for the Anthropocene (MIT Press)


Coursework (50%, 1500 words) in the AT. Project (50%) in the WT.

Summative assessment will include an individual written assessment in the Autumn Term (50%) and a collaborative research project in the Winter Term (50%).


Prof. Giles Atkinson (Professor of Environmental Policy). An environmental economist by training, Prof. Atkinson has published extensively on the sustainability of economic development, examining how policy-makers can construct better measures of economic progress through, for example, wealth accounting and natural capital accounting. 

Prof. Robin Burgess (Professor of Economics). Prof. Burgess's main interests are in the areas of environmental economics, development economics and political economy and he is currently working in Bangladesh, Brazil, Kenya, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, South Korea and Uganda.

Prof. Bart Cammaerts (Professor of Politics and Communication). Prof. Cammaerts' current research focuses on the relationship between media, communication and resistance with particular emphasis on media strategies of activists, media representations of protest, alternative counter-cultures and broader issues relating to power, participation and public-ness.

Lisa Derand (Department of Media and Communications) investigates the mediation practices of Indigenous organisations in Peru, that is their use and appropriation of various media to express themselves. She focuses on the relationship between the discursive and material aspects of organisations’ mediation practices and their strategic meaning-making.

Prof. Veerle Heyvaert (Professor of Law). Prof. Heyvaert has published extensively on issues of transnational environmental law and risk regulation, including books on Transnational Environmental Regulation and Governance. Purpose, Strategies and Principles and European Environmental Law.

Dr. Armine Ishkanian (Associate Professor of Social Policy). Dr. Ishkanian's research examines the relationship between civil society, democracy, development, and social transformation.  She has examined how civil society organisations and social movements engage in policy processes and transformative politics in a number of countries.

Dr. Katarzyna Mikołajczak (Research Officer in Conservation and Behaviour, Grantham Institute). Dr. Mikołajczak is an interdisciplinary conservation scientist, whose interests lie at the nexus between social and ecological sciences, with the aim of improving biodiversity conservation to benefit both people and nature.

Prof. Eric Neumayer (Professor of Environment and Development) is the LSE Pro-Director for Planning and Resources. An economist by training, his research interests include conflict, economic development, environment, evidence-based public policy, globalisation, human development and migration.

Dr. Andrea Pia (Assistant Professor of Anthropology). Dr. Pia is a legal and environmental anthropologist working at the interface between political economy, development, and the critical study of the commons. His regional focus over the last 15 years has been the People’s Republic of China.

Prof. Wendy Sigle (Professor of Gender and Family Studies). Prof. Sigle has worked on a variety of issues related to families and family policy in historical and contemporary societies. Her quantitative research applies both econometric and demographic methods to the analysis of secondary survey data or data drawn from official government records. 

Prof. Lord Nicholas Stern (Professor of Economics and Government) is the Chair of the Grantham Institute, Chair of the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, and former President of the Royal Economic Society, British Academy and European Economic Association. As the head of the Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change, his work had a seminal impact on climate policy in the UK and worldwide.