COURSE: Glocal Environmental Governance

Course content

In 2010 James Lovelock, globally respected environmental thinker and independent scientist, concluded that humans are too stupid to prevent climate change from radically impacting on our lives over the coming decades. The failures and successes of human attempts to govern accelerating environmental change is the political challenge of our era. The course will examine the theoretical, empirical and normative aspects of glocal environmental governance. The course will first consider the dominant paradigms, theories and concepts of glocal environmental governance. Second, the analytical tools developed in the introduction will be used to examine a series of cases in glocal environmental governance, including lifestyle/consumption, pollution mitigation, biodiversity maintenance, and climate change. The course concludes by returning to Lovelock’s assertion and asking whether and how humans are able to engage in glocal environmental governance capable of averting ecotastrophe.


Preliminary plan:


1. Understanding glocal environmental governance


2. overview – Our Promised Land

3. cases in (over) consumption


4. overview – Wall-E’s World

5. cases in pollution management


6. overview – the Avatar of Biodiversity

7. cases in biodiversity maintenance

Climate Change

8. overview – Today is the Day After Tomorrow

9. cases in climate change mitigation


The seminar consists of nine 3-hour sessions placing a heavy emphasis on active learning through case study work. The seminar begins by introducing the differing understandings of glocal environmental governance, in particular market liberal, institutional, bioenvironmental, and deep ecological views. The main emphasis of the course will be on four differing dimensions of glocal environmental governance – consumption, pollution, biodiversity, and climate change. In each of these areas the seminar will first explore the broad developments and discourses of glocal environmental governance. Second, in each area students will engage with selected case studies in order to explore both the theoretical and policy details.

Questions raised in the course include more empirical issues such as what are the predominant challenges of glocal environmental governance? How can we best understand different approaches to glocal environmental governance? How are the challenges of consumption, pollution, biodiversity, and climate change represented in popular culture? What are the differing paths to a green world? Are humans too stupid to govern climate change?


"Elective in the specialization "International Political Economy


Bachelorlevel: 10 ECTS

Masterlevel: 7,5 ECTS

Learning outcome

The aim of the seminar is to enable the student to:

  • Describe how glocal, environmental, and governance are deeply interdependent

  • Present central theoretical perspectives of market liberalism, institutionalism, bioenvironmentalism, and deep ecology.

  • Understand the role of consumption and sustainable lifestyles in glocal environmental governance.

  • Understand the role of pollution and precautionary behaviour in glocal environmental governance.

  • Understand the role of biodiversity and ecosystem services in glocal environmental governance.

  • Understand the role of climate change and adaption in glocal environmental governance.

This Active Learning seminar requires Preparation, Participation, and Positive attitude. Preparation means that the seminar takes the form of Active Learning involving continuous assessment. Seminar assignments are compulsory and are continuously assessed. Seminar assignments must be written individually. Participation means that in order to pass the seminar, students must actively participate through a minimum of 75% (7 out of 9 meetings). Positive attitude means that students will constructively participate in a number of group learning activities which form the core of the seminar.

Bulkeley, Harriet, and Peter Newell, Governing Climate Change, 2nd edn. (London: Routledge,


Chasek, Pamela, and David Downie, Global Environmental Politics, 7th edn. (Boulder:

Westview Press, 2016).

Christoff, Peter, and Robyn Eckersley, Globalization and the Environment (Rowman and Littlefield,


Clapp, Jennifer, and Peter Dauvergne (2011) Paths to a Green World: The Political Economy of the

Global Environment, 2nd edn. (Boston: MIT Press).

Conca, Ken, and Geoffrey D. Dabelko (eds.) Green Planet Blues: Critical Perspectives on Global

Environmental Politics, 5th edn. (Boulder: Westview Press, 2014).

Crow, Deserai, and Maxwell Boykoff (eds.) Culture, Politics and Climate Change: How Information

Shapes our Common Future (London: Routledge, 2014).

Gupta, Aarti, and Michael Mason (eds.) Transparency in Global Environmental Governance: Critical

Perspectives (Boston: MIT Press, 2014).

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2013 – The Physical Science Basis:

Working Group I Contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report (Cambridge: Cambridge University

Press, 2014).

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2014 – Impacts, Adaptation, and

Vulnerability: Working Group II Contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014).

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2014 – Mitigation of Climate Change:

Working Group III Contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report (Cambridge: Cambridge University

Press, 2015).

Klein, Naomi, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2015).

Lovelock, James, The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning (Basic Books, 2010).

Morin, Jean-Frédric, and Amandine Orsini (eds.) Essential Concepts of Global Environmental

Governance (London: Routledge, 2014).

Maslin, Mark, Climate Change: A Very Short Introduction, 3rd edn.  (Oxford: OUP, 2014).

Stern, Nicholas, Why are We Waiting? The Logic, Urgency, and Promise of Tackling Climate Change (Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 2015).

A detailed list of required readings will be provided during the seminar.

BA level in political science, international relations, or similar competences and an interest in reflections on glocal environmental governance.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assessment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • English
  • 28