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Climate Politics & Science-Policy
ENVS 5100/GEOG 5100-06

Course Description

The objective of this course is to explore, understand and critically analyze influences and trends in climate politics and science-policy. Structured in a seminar discussion format, class sessions work through the historically-sensitive and culturally-situated climate governance at multiple scales. Accessed primarily through peer-reviewed literature, sessions critically interrogate movements and dynamics in climate politics and science-policy decision-making. As examples, course participants will consider assessments, critiques and proposals:

  • to improve governance architectures shaping climate decision-making (from the mild corrective to radical restructuring),
  • to reduce emissions while attending to climate adaptation, vulnerability and resilience
  • to (equitably/justly) divide up a remaining 500 billion tons of Carbon that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group I asserts can still be emitted into the atmosphere
  • to decarbonize industry and society at multiple levels

To dig into the details of the complex and highly-contested issues, the course has intensive reading demands. By way of themes in climate politics at the science-policy interface, we challenge our thinking about climate change as a problem, develop new frameworks for analysis, and discuss practical and conceptual alternatives for mitigation and adaptation actions in our individual and collective lives. Session discussions help us distinguish patterns, appraise and assess values, and gain insights from a variety of perspectives and viewpoints concerning climate change politics and science-policy.

Focusing primarily on social science engagements, course participants will gain an improved understanding of the myriad factors, pressures and processes that are involved in contemporary climate politics undergirding explicit policy proposals. Course participants will more capably identify consequential spaces of decision-making, recognize tractable places for change and fashion constructive strategies for their own research by way of best available evidence from work done in these areas. Overall, our attention to these course themes, concepts and case studies will help us to more capably understand, analyze and engage in the high-stakes 21st century arena of climate politics and policy.