Selected Issues: Global Environmental Governance


Course Objective

Knowledge and understanding - The student has acquired knowledge and
understanding of:
(1) major empirical developments in Global Environmental Governance.

Application - The student has acquired the competences to:
(2) identify the policy relevance of the results of political research
as well as detecting pitfalls and shortcomings;
(3) apply theories and approaches of International Relations to the
policy field of global environmental governance.

Learning skills – The student has acquired the skills to:
(4) write an academic research paper at Master's level;
(5) to give a presentation and engage in an academic debate.

Course Content

This course introduces students to the current state of research within
the field of global environmental governance. Global environmental
change is one of the great challenges humankind is facing today. Humans
now influence almost all biological and physical systems of the planet.
Scientists today see mounting evidence that the entire earth system now
operates well outside the normal state exhibited over the past 500,000
years, and that human activity is generating change that extends well
beyond natural variability – in some cases, alarmingly so – and at rates
that continue to accelerate. The perennial question from a social
science perspective is how to organize the co-evolution of societies and
their surrounding environment, in other words, how to develop effective
and equitable governance solutions for today’s global problems.
This course builds on Theories and Approaches: International Relations
and Political Concepts and Processes by teaching students how to apply
core concepts of political science to substantial issues in
international studies. At the same time, students will be made aware of
the current state of research within the field of global environmental
governance. This knowledge will be useful in the upcoming workshop later
in the program.
Governance refers to the phenomenon that many public functions
increasingly seem to be assumed and carried out by actors other than the
government actors of the nation-state. In particular, the course further
investigates three profound transformation in global environmental
governance: (1) the increasing diversity of agency (i.e. the observation
that authority to govern is vested not only in governments and public
actors but in a host of non-state actors as well); (2) the
institutionalization of novel governance mechanisms and instruments
beyond international agreements (e.g. private certification schemes in
global forest politics); and (3), the increased fragmentation of global
environmental governance into a number of functionally interlinked but
increasingly conflictive policy domains (e.g. the potential overlap
between climate change and biodiversity governance). For each type of
empirical transformation discussed above, a selection of important
examples will be analyzed. Students are encouraged to make their own
contributions in the form of one essay that presents original research
and one class presentation that critically discusses a concrete
empirical example of global environmental governance.

Teaching Methods


Method of Assessment

Written assignment, research paper (60%) + group presentation (40%)


We will use the following textbook:

Biermann, Frank, and Philipp Pattberg, editors (2012). Global
Environmental Governance Reconsidered. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
(Available at the VU book store).

A reading list with required readings in addition to the text book will
be made available via CANVAS.

Target Audience

Students in the Master Political Science (mandatory course for students
in the track Global Environmental Governance. Elective course for
student in other tracks).
Also open as an elective course for students in the Master Environment
and Resource Management and Exchange Students.

Additional Information

This course is compulsory for students in the track Global Environmental
Governance and optional for students in the other Master tracks.

General Information

Course Code S_SIGEG
Credits 6 EC
Period P2
Course Level 500
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator prof. dr. P.H. Pattberg
Examiner prof. dr. P.H. Pattberg
Teaching Staff prof. dr. P.H. Pattberg

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Teaching Methods Study Group
Target audiences

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