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POLS7009 Global Environmental Politics

Course Code: POLS7009

Course Tutor: Dr Harry Bauer (Department of Political Science)

Length: One term (Spring Term)

Teaching: 20 hours lectures/seminars

Assessment: Two 2,000 word essays (40/60%)

Credits: 0.5 course units, 4 (US) 7.5 (ECTS) 

Module Level: Advanced

About this course

This course is an advanced module designed to introduce students to the major themes and issues in the study of global environmental politics (GEP). In doing so, the course requires a sound knowledge of political science approaches and vocabulary, especially of (global) public policy and International Relations. The course begins by outlining perspectives on why (global) environmental problems arise, and how and under what conditions they can be solved. It then explores processes of international environmental governance: problem identification/policy formulation, designing and negotiating multilateral environmental regimes and implementing and enforcing international environmental law and policy. Illustrations from the politics of climate change, ozone depletion, air pollution, whaling, hazardous wastes and deforestation will be used to further understanding of these processes. We will ask questions such as: What factors help countries negotiate treaties to solve problems? What types of rules work best? What role do non-state actors play? How can we evaluate whether a treaty has been effective or successful? What are the obstacles to effective environmental agreements? We then turn to recent issues and debates in global environmental politics by analysing examples of non-state global environmental governance, exploring the interrelationship between economic development and environmental quality and examining the link between environmental change, violent conflict and human security. A wide variety of teaching methods are used in the course including inter-active games, role play simulations, group discussion and the application of theoretical concepts to the analysis of contemporary events. By the end of the course, students will be familiar with the main issues in the field of (international) environmental politics and policy; be able to critically appraise theoretical approaches; and to interpret and assess the ways in which the international community has reacted to global environmental problems.

This module may not be taken by students who have previously taken POLS6009.

Indicative reading:

Axelrod, Regina S., and Stacy D. VanDeveer (eds.). 2015. The Global Environment: Institutions, Law, and Policy. Washington, DC: CQ Press.

Clapp, Jennifer, and Peter Dauvergne. 2011. Paths to a Green World: The Political Economy of the Global Environment. 2nd ed. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Mitchell, Ronald B. 2011. International Politics and the Environment. London: SAGE.

O’Neill, Kate. 2009. The Environment and International Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sabatier, Paul A., and Christopher M. Weible. 2014. Theories of the Policy Process. 3rd ed. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Steinberg, Paul F., and Stacy D. VanDeveer (eds.). 2012. Comparative Environmental Politics: Theory, Practice, and Prospects. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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School of Public Policy,
The Rubin Building,
29/31 Tavistock Square,
London, WC1H 9QU.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 4999,
Fax: +44 (0)20 7679 4978,

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Page last modified on 07 sep 15 10:44

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