Governing Planet Earth

Please note: this is archived course information from 2021 for POLITICS 313.


From climate change and land-use conflicts to air and water pollution, environmental problems play an increasingly important role in the contemporary political landscape.

In this course we examine the relationship between the exercise of political power and environmental degradation, which opens up questions such as: what does it mean to be "green" or "sustainable"? How do political institutions shape environmental policies and practices? Which actors should bear the costs of environmental problems and their solutions?

This course critically examines the role of different ideologies and institutions in shaping these challenges and the solutions to them. It draws from examples around the globe.

Topics include: limits to growth, sustainable development, ecological modernisation, ecolocalism and environmental justice.


On successful completion of this paper students will be able to:

  • Compare and critically discuss a range of theoretical perspectives in environmental politics
  • Understand the political nature of a range of contemporary environmental challenges
  • Analyse how varied actors, sectors and public institutions play important roles in enhancing or eroding environmental sustainability
  • Identify the characteristics of multilevel institutions shaping environmental challenges and their solutions
  • Create an engaging oral presentation linking a course reading to a current environmental challenge
  • Gain experience conducting online and library research, constructing evidence-based arguments and writing a research paper

Availability 2021

Semester 2


Lecturer(s) Professor Andreas Neef


POLITICS 313: 15 points


30 points at Stage II in Politics and International Relations, or POLITICS 106 and 30 points at Stage II in Global Environment and Sustainable Development