GEOG 445: Geographies of International Environmental Governance

Why is it so difficult to solve international environmental problems? What works and doesn't work in international environmental policy and governance? What improvements can be made and how can we take positive steps forward? This course seeks to address these very questions from a geographical and social science perspective.  We will explore the nature and causes of many high-profile international environmental problems and the solutions developed to address these challenges.  We will begin by identifying some key concepts in global environmental politics such as the global commons, sovereignty, and sustainability. Next, we will explore the geographical origins and consequences of international environmental issues - which countries and groups are most responsible, how the issue relates to the earth's physical and human geography, and who will be most affected.  We will explore the processes of environmental policy development from the identification of problems to the negotiation of solutions, and the implementation of international treaties and agreements. We will look at a variety of cases including water, whaling and marine conservation, fisheries, ozone depletion, toxic waste, trans-frontier pollution, deforestation, biodiversity, and climate change, and how these relate to development goals.  Finally, students will debate key policy questions in global environmental politics and analyze approaches to development, security, equity, and justice. The focus will be at the global level but we will also examine the interaction between processes in sub-national, national and international arenas and the role of government, business, nongovernmental and international organizations.

Course Credits