Global environmental problems and politics

This course introduces you to global environmental problems and politics; different approaches to reaching agreement about global environmental policies, including controversies between North and South.

  • to promote understanding of the political response to growing evidence of global environmental degradation
  • to demonstrate awareness of some of the underlying uncertainties and controversies about how environmental problems should be evaluated and responded to politically, especially concerning differences between developed and developing countries 
  • to enhance awareness of global environmental governance as an outcome of what different actors do by evaluating the role played by key actors such as states, international organizations, transnational corporations and environmental non-governmental organisations in such governance 
  • to understand the emergence of environmental policies, including environmental regimes, and the specific challenges of different problems with particular reference to climate change, biodiversity loss (and its links with deforestation) and with reference to other problems such as ozone depletion
  • to demonstrate some of the key political problems in achieving agreement between different nation states, and between environmental policies at different spatial scales, especially when these represent apparent challenges to economic development or local rights.

At the end of this course and having completed the essential reading and activities students should be able to: 

  • explain the basic political dilemmas and challenges of calling environmental problems ‘global’ and seeking ‘global’ solutions to them 
  • describe different approaches to constructing environmental regimes, including approaches based on nation states in cooperation or in conflict; or the role of so-called ‘knowledge actors’ such as scientists and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in creating consensus 
  • critically discuss the manner in which the emergence of sustainable development as a core concept of international initiative reflects and responds to dominant political and economic interests 
  • describe the diverse problems of addressing climate change and declining biodiversity through multi-faceted policy approaches such as international treaties, national regulation and civil society activity 
  • explain the importance of trade in achieving international agreement of standards and practices, and the dilemmas faced when regulating trade in environmental goods and services that have uncertain and contested environmental impacts
  • assess the role played by key international organisations linked to the United Nations in the promotion of global environmental regimes and global environmental governance in general 
  • describe and assess the main debates surrounding the role of NGOs in global environmental politics 
  • describe and assess some of the dilemmas of implementing global environmental policy at the local level, such as in biodiversity conservation.
  • Axelrod, Regina S., David Leonard Downie, and Norman J. Vig (eds) The Global Environment: Institutions, Law and Policy. (Washington: Congressional Quarterly Press, 2005) second edition [ISBN 9781452241456]. 
  • Chasek, Pamela S., David L. Downie, and Janet Welsh Brown Global Environmental Politics. (Boulder: Westview Press, 2013) sixth edition [ISBN 9780813348964]
  • Clapp, Jennifer and Peter Dauvergne Paths to a Green World: The Political Economy of the Global Environment. (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2011) second edition [ISBN 9780262515825]. 
  • Elliott, Lorraine The Global Politics of the Environment. (New York: NYU Press, 2004) second edition [ISBN 9780333948514].

Contact us

FF – Contact Us
Privacy policy
Your data will be used exclusively for processing your application and will not be transferred to third parties without your consent. Please read our privacy policy here.
Marketing policy
We may wish to send you information on Forward College that we think might interest you, besides transactional messages related to your application. You will be able to modify your choices at any time.