Governance of Global Sustainability


Course Objective

After this course students:
1. can explain key concepts from social and behavioral sciences relevant
for the study of sustainability;
2. can characterize main modes of governance and behavioral triggers;
3. can explain the role of the social system in socio-environmental
4. are aware of methods to quantify/qualify the state of governance and
institutional/organizational change;
5. can identify Strengths, Opportunities, Threats and Weaknesses (SWOT)
related to specific transitions strategies.

Course Content

How can we govern the transition towards a more sustainable society?
What are the mechanisms, interventions and governance approaches that
are able to change unsustainable patterns and structures? The course
addresses these questions related to people at various levels of
aggregation: at the individual and social group level, at the level of
organizations (such as the United Nations or the World Trade
Organization), and at the level of political institutions (such as the
state/government, cities/regions and private/transnational regimes). Our
course will consequently survey the existing modes of governance towards
behavioral and institutional change: authority, markets and networks.
Methods to assess governance and transformative change are addressed and
students identify for their specific case studies what strengths,
opportunities, weaknesses, and threats are associated to the ‘people
dimension’. The course comprises lectures, workshops and a negotiation
simulation and is evaluated through written assignment and a written

Method of Assessment

The course will be evaluated through
1) an assignment, consisting of a) a presentation (10%) and b) a short
student report (1500 words) regarding the governance/behavioral aspects
of their topic and associated SWOTs (40%).
2) an exam (50%), which will be composed of multiple choice and open


For each week, a selection of articles will be made to be studied in
advance. For background reading on the key concepts and empirical issues
covered in this class, we will use Encyclopedia of Global Environmental
Governance and Policy (edited by P. Pattberg and F. Zelli), Edward Elgar
Publishing. There is an affordable paperback version availabel from the
VU bookstore. Individual chapters can also be assessed via the VU
library's electronic sources.

Recommended background knowledge

Interest in sustainability issues and social questions

General Information

Course Code AB_1229
Credits 6 EC
Period P2
Course Level 300
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator dr. J. Dell'Angelo
Examiner dr. J. Dell'Angelo
Teaching Staff dr. J. Dell'Angelo

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar, Lecture
Target audiences

This course is also available as: