Governing Climate Change: Theory and Practice

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Governing Climate Change: Theory and Practice

  • Host University

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

  • Location

    Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  • Area of Study

    Environmental Studies, International Politics, Political Science

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Climate change may well be the most pressing environmental challenge facing humankind. Yet despite scientific consensus on its main cause – us – politicians and governments still lack the will and ambition to tackle the crisis effectively. Instead we see cities, companies and NGOs responding. They have become the driving forces behind innovative tools for behavioural change, creating a complex alternative web of institutions, instruments and actors seeking to govern climate change at the global level.

    On this course you examine different approaches to coping with climate change, from international agreements to market-based solutions and private activities. Theory is mixed with practice through lectures, discussions, games and excursions to provide concrete examples of how the issue is being addressed at various levels and by various actors. Along the way we invite you to question scientists, policymakers and lobbyists. 

    Governing Climate Change is embedded in the teaching and research work of the Department for Environmental Policy Analysis (EPA), part of VU Amsterdam’s world-renowned Institute for Environmental Studies. In 2014 EPA was rated the best Dutch research group in environmental economics, sociology and policy.

    At the end of this course, you will:

    • Understand how global climate governance has changed over the past 40 years and where it might take us in the future. 
    • Be able to critically examine and assess current climate governance in terms of its emergence, effectiveness and efficiency, and be able to formulate reasoned opinions about contested concepts like fairness, legitimacy, equity and justice.
    • Improve your communication and debating skills on climate change.
    • Experience practical local and global solutions to climate-change issues in the Netherlands.

    Lectures, excursions, discussions, group work, games

    Short essay (1500 words)

    The course includes three excursions:

    • Greenpeace International (Non-Governmental Organization) 
    • De Ceuvel (city playground for innovation and creativity) 
    • Guided bike tour through Amsterdam (with focus on sustainability and local climate change issues)

    Master or PhD students and professions with an interest in climate action and policy. Students who are in their final year of bachelors studies or have obtained a full bachelors degree are able to register for this course. Our courses are multi-disciplinary and therefore are open to students and professionals with a wide variety of backgrounds.