Environmental Policy and Governance: Advanced Topics

Course Description: 

The global environment has become an arena of political and ideological contestation between states, global regions and non-state actors over the past 40 years.  While nations have responded to environmental degradation by increasing cooperation through environmental regimes, underlying structural patterns having to do with the global political economy and ideology have been more difficult to address.  This course, which is taught as a discussion oriented seminar, provides a broad understanding of the relationship between globalization, global political economy and environment.    We examine the background discourses that inform issues related to the global political economy and the environment, and students will be able to locate their own belief systems, values and politics in relation to global environmental politics.  Among the issues we engage are North-South Politics, poverty and environment, trade and environment, investment and finance and environment, ideology and environmental politics and the role of neoliberalism and reforms of the global political economy to make it more ecologically and socially sustainable. We also analyze the emerging climate governance system in light of the analysis and readings that form the central focus of the class.


The course has three overriding aims:


·      Deepen students' understanding of the relationship between globalization and environment by examining key policies and processes of globalization and their interaction with the environment and environmental politics.

·      Develop students' knowledge of the ideological discourses that inform global environmental politics by examining four key environmental perspectives, or world views, that underlie the positions taken by various actors in environmental debates.

·      Strengthen students' ability to think analytically and critically about international environmental politics and their own environmental world views, and how these inform political preferences.  We will read and discuss examples of the various world views and discourses and relate these to political objectives and policy preferences.

Learning Outcomes: 

1. Knowledge of key issues in environmental governance, especially as related to post-Earth Summit policy issues; 2. Knowledge of the relationship between environment and the global political economy; 3. A critical understanding of the interests and conceptual understandings of state and other actors in global environmental politics; 4. The ability to think strategically about opportunities and obstacles in the development of environmental regimes and governance systems.


Students will turn in regular short reflections on the readings, which account for 60% of the final grade.  A final essay of 2000 words (about 5 pages) will count for 30% of the final grade, and class participation will count for 10%


Introduction to International Environmental Policy