ISS-4229-1415 Global Environmental Politics

ISS-4229 Global Environmental Politics
Weight of the course
Course Leader
Teaching Methods
Modes of Assessment
Murat Arsel
Murat Arsel, Bram Buscher, Andrew Fischer, Wendy Harcourt
Participatory Lecture, Workshop
Assignment(s): 35% (Individual Essay), Written Exam: 50%,
Group Presentation: 15%
Nalini Harnam
Learning Objectives
This course provides a comprehensive overview of global environmental changes and their political
implications. After completing it, students will be able to:
 Critically interrogate the creation and resolution of global environmental problems such as
climate change
 Understand the ways in which global environmental problems are fundamentally grounded in
social, economic and political relations;
 Evaluate the changing relationships between the modern nation-state system, global
capitalism and the environment;
 Analyse key policy documents produced by organizations such as UNEP and WTO on global
environmental politics, assessing their validity and usefulness for policy making;
 Develop in-depth understanding of various environmental problems relating to mining, oil
extraction and industrial development and their place in global environmental politics
Course Description
Why is so little being done to address global environmental problems such as climate change,
deforestation, and biodiversity loss? How should developing countries contribute to their resolution?
What can individuals and alternative social forces do to tackle global environmental problems? This
course provides answers to these and other similar questions at the heart of global environmental
The course is constructed around the tension between the sovereignty of nation-states and the need
to achieve global socioeconomic justice. We start by discussing the ‘environmental justice’ literature
as an attempt to make sense of this enduring tension. Then we critically evaluate the role played by a
number of key actors in global environmental governance such as UNEP, WTO, IPCC, civil society
organizations and corporations and take an in-depth look at various contemporary issues, such as
population, mining, geo-engineering, biotechnology and renewable energy. Finally, we discuss the
suggestion that global environmental governance is increasingly taking the shape of ‘environmental
colonialism’. We pay particular attention to the ways in which the existence of a global system of
capitalism affects our understanding of environmental issues and proposed solutions and try to
identify and (re)conceptualize alternative solutions to global environmental problems.
Indicative Readings
Beck, Ulrich (1995) Ecological Politics in an Age of Risk. Cambridge, MA: Polity
Clapp, J and P. Dauvergne (2005) Paths to a Green World: The Political Economy of the Global
Environment. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Jasanoff , S. and M.L. Martello (eds) (2004) Earthly Politics: Local and Global in Environmental
Governance. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Lipschutz, R.D. (2004) Global Environmental Politics: Power, Perspectives, and Practice.
Washington, DC: CQ Press
Ramachandra G. and J. Martinez-Alier (1998) Varieties of Environmentalism: Essays North and
South. London: Earthscan.
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