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COURSE NAME: "International Environmental Politics"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Summer Session I 2019

EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MTWTH 11:10-1:00 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: One introductory level Political Science course

This course examines public policy challenges in addressing international environmental protection. Students will examine such issues as climate change, sustainable development, protection of biodiversity/ecosystems/species, resource extraction and energy, which involve conflicting value systems enmeshed in complex power relationships. This course draws students’ attention to issues of scale, interconnectedness, boundaries, and the importance of creating solutions that are workable across and between jurisdictions. Students will engage these global challenges in order to develop the knowledge, and the problem solving and communications skills, to facilitate environmental policy work in the international arena.

The rise of global environmental politics: the increasing scale, scope and visibility of environmental issues.

Global cooperation in environmental politics: the principal actors and the main challenges.

International regimes and competing paradigms in global environmental politics.

KEY ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES: For each of the following environmental issues, we shall define the problem, explain its causes, assess its potential consequences and analyze the cooperative arrangements and policies fashioned by the international community to address, mitigate and/or solve the problem.

-          air pollution,

-          the depletion of the ozone layer,

-          water pollution and water scarcity,

-          non-renewable and renewable energy sources,

-          climate change,

-          hazardous waste and toxic chemicals,

-          deforestation,

-          desertification and land degradation,

-          threats to biodiversity,

-          genetic resources: preservation, access and benefit sharing,

-          international trade in endangered species, and

-          whale hunting.


Students will become familiar with the principal environmental challenges confronting the international community.

Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the role of various private and public, national and international actors in the formulation, adoption and implementation of global environmental public policies.

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
The Environment and International Relations (SECOND Edition)Kate O'NeillCambridge University Press (SECOND Edition, 2017)978-1-107-67171-3  
Global Environmental Politics: Problems, Policy and PracticeHayley StevensonCambridge University Press (2018) 978-1-107-54753-7  
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Essentials of Environmental Science (2nd Edition)Andrew Friedland & Rick Relyea W.H. Freeman McMillan (SECOND Edition, 2016)ISBN-13: 978-1-319-06566-9.  
Global Environmental Politics (7th Edition, 2017)Pamela Chasek, David Downie & Janet Welsh BrownWestview Press (SEVENTH Edition, 2017)9780813349794  

Class Participation 10%
First Midterm ExamWednesday, June 5th 30%
Second Midterm ExamTuesday, June 18th30%
Final ExamFriday, June 28th30%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.



Class attendance is required and, together with participation in class discussions, will comprise part of each student’s grade. Students who miss a class are required to send an email to the instructor - before or immediately after the absence - explaining the reason for the absence.

The Dean’s Office may direct instructors to make exemptions from their specific attendance policies in the case of a chronic medical condition or other serious problem. Students seeking such an exemption must ask a Dean as soon as they are aware of a situation impeding their required attendance. Students who cannot meet the attendance requirements for a particular class may be advised to withdraw from it.

Absences from major examinations require a Dean’s Office excuse, insofar as the student may seek to take a make-up exam, submit a make-up assignment, or count another assessment more so as to cover the missed exam. Likewise, students need the permission of the Dean's office in order to take exams early, or reschedule them in any way. The Dean’s Office will only excuse such absences when they are caused by serious impediments, such as a student’s own illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which the student is attending the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences or rescheduling requests due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students seeking such an excuse must notify their instructor and the Dean’s Office, as soon as possible, and no later than the beginning of the exam. 

Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday must notify their instructors by the end of the Add/Drop period (during the first week of classes). Students missing a class for this reason also must make prior arrangements with their instructor to make up any work missed. 

- First Midterm: Wednesday, June 5th
- Second Midterm: Tuesday, June 18th
- Final exam: Friday, June 28th.


As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


“O’Neill” = The Environment and International Relations

“Stevenson” = Global Environmental Politics: Problems, Policy and Practice

“EES” = Essentials of Environmental Science (on RESERVE)

“Chasek” = Global Environmental Politics – Dilemmas in World Politics (on RESERVE)


The Environment and Global Politics

Unit 1 – Monday, May 27th, 2019

Introduction to the course

Politics and the Global Environment

“Global Environmental Politics: Problems, Policy and Practice,” by Hayley Stevenson (hereinafter, “Stevenson”), pages 1-10.

Unit 2 – Tuesday, May 26th

The Tragedy of the Commons

Stevenson, Chapter 2

“Essentials of Environmental Science,” by Andrew Friedland and Rick Relyea (Second Edition, 2016) (hereinafter “EES”), on RESERVE, pages 158-160 (“Human land use affects the environment in many ways”)

Unit 3 – Wednesday, May 27th

Population growth, poverty and environmental impact

Stevenson, Chapter 3

“Is Environmentalism Just for Rich People? Sometimes it can seem as if only the privileged support the cause. But the truth is more complicated,” by Neil Gross, from the New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/14/opinion/sunday/yellow-vest-protests-climate.html

International Regimes and Global Environmental Politics

Unit 4 – Thursday, May 28th

International Relations Theories, International Regimes and Global Environmental Problems

“The Environment and International Relations,” (SECOND Edition, 2017) by Kate O’Neill (hereafter, “O’Neill”), pages 11-18 (“Scholarly Perspectives on International Environmental Politics”) and 28-49 (the emergence of global environmental concerns; and typologies of global environmental problems)

-          Additional suggested reading: O’Neill, pages 5-11 


Unit 5 – Monday, June 3rd

The new Anthropocene Epoch; National Security and the Environment; and the “Precautionary Principle”

EES, pages 308-309 (“Worldwide standards of risk”); and 372-373 (“The Precautionary Principle”)

Chasek, pages 40-48 (“Environmental change as a security issue”; and “the Precautionary Principle”).

Handout on “The New Anthropocene Epoch”

The Key Actors in Global Environmental Politics

Unit 6 – Tuesday, June 4th

The State, International Governmental Organizations and Public International Law

O’Neill, pages 51-63

Chasek, pages 51-54 (skim 54-58)

Class handouts on:

-          Public International Law Basics

-          International Organizations Basics

Unit 7 –  Wednesday, June5: First MIDTERM EXAM

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), private businesses, the scientific community, individual leaders and public opinion

O’Neill, pages 63-77

Unit 8 – Thursday, June 6th

The role of states in international regime formation: the negotiation of environmental treaties

O’Neill, pages 79-93

Chasek, pages 105-110


Unit 9 – Monday, June 10th

The Influence of actors and interests on regime outcomes

O’Neill, pages 93-112

Chasek, box 1.3 and box 1.4, pages 18-19.

Global Environmental Problems and Policy Responses

Unit 10 – Tuesday, June 11th

Air and water pollution; water scarcity; ozone layer depletion

O’Neill, box 2.1, pages 34 and 35 (major international environmental problems).

EES, pages 241-249 (Air Pollution), and pages 256-259 (The Stratospheric Ozone Layer).

Handout on Ozone Depleting Substances, the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol.

Stevenson, pages 88-92 (water scarcity).

Handout on international regimes for the prevention of air and water pollution.

Unit 11 – Wednesday, June 12th

Energy sources and sustainable development

EES, pages 181, 190-193, and tables 8.2 (page 194) and 8.3 (pages 208-209).

See the “Animation of Hydraulic Fracturing (fracking),” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VY34PQUiwOQ .

Stevenson, pages 107-122 (Multilateral diplomacy and sustainable development)

“A Sensible Climate Change Solution, Borrowed From Sweden,” by Richard Rhodes, New York Times, February 5, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/05/books/review/bright-future-joshua-s-goldstein-staffan-a-qvist.html?action=click&module=Editors%20Picks&pgtype=Homepage 

Unit 12 – Thursday, June 13th

Climate Change: The Science

EES, pages 337-346 (stop before “Global temperatures since 1880”) and from page 353 (“Global Warming Has Serious Consequences”) through page 356.

“Glaciers Are Retreating. Millions Rely on Their Water,” by Henry Fountain and Ben Solomon, New York Times, January 16, 2019 in  https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/01/15/climate/melting-glaciers-globally.html

Additional recommended reading:

-          Ethical Enhancement in an Age of Climate Change,” by Paul Wapner, in Ethics and International Affairs, 28.3, Fall 2014.


Unit 13 – Monday, June 17th

Climate Change and Transnational Governance

Stevenson, Chapter 7

“U.S.-China Friction Threatens to Undercut the Fight Against Climate Change,” by Semini Sengupta, from the New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/07/climate/us-china-climate-change.html

Unit 14 – Tuesday, June 18th 

The 2015 Paris Climate Accord

“The Paris Agreement and the new logic of international climate politics,” by Robert Falkner, in International Affairs 92: 5 (2016) 1107–1125.

Unit 15 – Wednesday, June 19th

Problem Displacement: Hazardous Substances and Toxic Chemicals

Stevenson, Chapter 10

Unit 16 – Thursday, June 20th

Agriculture, pesticides and fertilizers

EES, pages 165-169 (Agriculture, fertilizers and pesticides)

“A Push for Safer Fertilizer in Europe Carries a Whiff of Russian Intrigue,” by Matt Apuzzo, from the New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/21/world/europe/russia-europe-fertilizer-regulation.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage


Unit 17 – Monday, June 24th

Global Economic Governance, Environmental Aid and the Environment

Stevenson, pages 167-183

Additional recommended reading: O’Neill, pages 139-168

Unit 18 – Tuesday, June 25th

Land management, Deforestation and Desertification  

EES, pages 160-165 (“Land management and land use”).

Stevenson, pages 183-196

“In the Blink of an Eye, a Hunt for Oil Threatens Pristine Alaska,” from the New York Times, by Henry Fountain and Steve Eder, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/03/us/oil-drilling-arctic-national-wildlife-refuge.html

 “Why Iraq’s biblical paradise is becoming a salty wasteland,” from PBS, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/why-iraqs-biblical-paradise-is-becoming-a-salty-wasteland

Unit 19 – Wednesday, June 26th

Biodiversity, endangered species, living modified organisms and genetic resources

EES, pages 169-170 (“Genetic engineering”), 315-320 (biodiversity) and 326 (“Plant and animal trade”).

Chasek, pages 188-192 (Biodiversity loss and the 1992 UN Convention on Biological Diversity).

“Trump Drilling Plan Threatens 9 Million Acres of Sage Grouse Habitat,” by Coral Davenport, from the New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/06/climate/trump-sage-grouse-oil.html

“Satao II, one of Africa’s last great tusker elephants was reportedly shot and killed by poachers,” from National Geographic, https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/03/africa-tusker-elephant-satao/

9 Tons of Pangolin Scales Are Seized in Hong Kong,” by Tiffany May, February 1, 2019, New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/01/world/asia/pangolin-smuggling-hong-kong.html?action=click&module=Latest&pgtype=Homepage

Unit 20
– Thursday, June 27th

The International Regulation of Whale Hunting

“Japan to Resume Commercial Whaling, Defying International Ban,” from the New York Times, December 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/26/world/asia/japan-whaling-withdrawal.html

Final Review

Friday, June 28th: FINAL EXAM