Climate Change Politics & Policy

Course Requirements


attendance & participation (occasional quizzes)
10 pts
news items (1 point each 2x/week [3 in week 2])*+
11 pts
roundtable (comment sheet, co-facilitation, summary)
11 pts
reading questions (1 point each 2x/week [except 1 in first week &/or 1 when co-facilitating])*+
8 pts
collaborative activity* +
20 pts
midterm exam
20 pts
final exam
20 pts
Total: 100 points

* for anything late, 25% will be deducted per calendar day (starting from the session they’re due)
+ all worked delivered in hard copy must be double-side printed

Unfortunately, we will not be able to discuss all dimensions and facets of the themes and readings. So it will be up to you to engage both critically and mindfully with these outside of our meetings as well. I encourage you to self-organize into discussion and/or study groups to get the most out of the materials, themes, and issues that are raised in the class meetings.

Attendance & Class Participation (occasional quizzes) (10 points)

This is an upper division course crammed into a summer session term so the schedule is inevitably demanding. It is important that everyone stay up to date with the readings, assignments and other expectations. All readings must be completed before the class for which they are assigned. 

Everyone is expected to attend all sessions and to engage critically with the readings and issues that are discussed.  Our discussions inevitably will build upon previous sessions.  Come to each class session ready to contribute with comments you have assembled based on the readings and the topics/issues they raise. Your participation is valued, and enhances class sessions.  I must note here that if you accumulate more than 3 unexcused absences during the summer session, you will not be able to pass the course.

News Items (11 points)

On Mondays and Wednesdays for weeks #2, #3, #4 and #5 (Wednesday/Friday for week #1), bring to class a news item related to the course content. We’ll begin each session with a short discussion of the items, tethering conceptual frameworks and engagements to unfolding issues in the public arena.

In addition, tweet these news items by each class time with the hashtag #climate2017. If you do not yet have a twitter account, you will sign up for a free one on Tuesday, July 11.

Roundtables: Comment Sheets, Discussion Co-Facilitation, Summary (11 points)

During one of the nine Tuesdays/Thursdays sessions during summer term, groups of 2-3 will work together to co-facilitate a roundtable discussion of that day’s materials and themes. The sign-up sheet will circulate on Wednesday, July 12.

This co-facilitation will have three main elements: 1) preparation of a Comment Sheet before the session, 2) Co-facilitation during the session and 3) a Summary after the session

Comment Sheets (4 points)

Co-facilitators will draw up notes to distribute to the class, providing a short summary along with a set of potential discussion points, comments and questions. These are limited to two pages. Co-facilitators will send these over email by 8AM the day of the session (3 hours before we meet). Post them to the class by sending it as an attachment (in Word or PDF) via email to  

These comments will direct us all to what co-facilitators determine to be important and key themes as well as critiques and questions from the material to discuss during the session. If you are in a group of two or more, these must be prepared together as a group.

Co-facilitation (4 points)

Co-facilitators will prepare/coordinate how they plan to guide discussions. They will be provided also with a question each from the other class participants (see ‘reading questions’ below) to have at the ready if needed during the discussion.

Summaries (2 points)

Based on the co-facilitated roundtable discussion, by the next session co-facilitators will eachsubmit a summary (up to two pages) on the content as well as the process of preparation for and activities in the roundtable discussion (in hard copy). Summaries must include:

  • Substantive treatment of what discussions and questions transpired in the session.
  • Discussion of how the roundtable session may have or may have not furthered critical understanding of the themes for that class period. 
  • Reflections on your facilitation role in the session:  What worked in co-facilitating the discussion? What did not? What would you do differently the next time? 

Confidential Peer Assessment (1 point)

Each co-facilitator will turn in (in hard copy) a confidential peer assessment based on their experiences. Copies of these are provided on the course website under the ‘additional materials tab’.

Reading Questions (8 points)

For the Tues/Thurs course sessions (except just Thursday in week 1), everyone (with the exception of the co-facilitators for that session) will provide a brief question based on the readings for that day. Bring to class four copies with your name on each one to hand out to the 2-3 co-facilitators and to me.

Approach each reading with a critical eye, and draw on your critical faculties to ask analytical questions over providing mere summarizing/descriptive questions about the content. 

Collaborative activity (20 points)
Bonn COP23 negotiations – agreeing on a road map to distribute funds for loss and damage

In this activity, we look forward to the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP23) meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that will take place in Bonn, Germany. Among the many issues on the table in Bonn COP23 will be plans to develop and agree on a ‘road map’ to distribute funds by, through and to member-nations for loss and damage due to climate change. In this exercise, we will work to negotiate and agree on what this ‘road map’ will be.

Each of you will represent a key country in the negotiations, situated in a voting bloc. An objective of this activity is to successfully agree to commitments that most closely align with your nation’s interests, as situated in your specified voting blocs. The countries represented will provide an instructive yet constrained view of larger (and messier) negotiations involving up to 193 nations. You will play the role of that country’s high-level climate envoy and negotiator as you work strategically to achieve the ‘best deal’ for your country and its constituents. By studying and arguing for your adopted country’s perspective and stances in climate negotiations, you will find success in the international negotiations. For the purposes of the role play, I am Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Patricia Espinosa. In this role, I will move between in-class caucuses to mediate negotiations and offer short and neutral comments as solicited by you as climate envoys.


  1. In class on July 12, each of you will draw the name of a participating country out of the hat; you will briefly caucus with your voting blocs to begin to map out common interests that may be present within the groupings.
  2. Between July 12 and July 17 you will study up on the positions that your country has taken relative to loss and damage commitments in the UN Conference of Parties negotiations – this will involve looking into how your country representatives have moved through previous negotiations, and what are priorities that they have articulated for the successor climate treaty
  3. To hand in (as hard copies) on July 17, you will develop a 1-2 page fact sheet/position paper to share with your voting bloc (and me); the fact sheet will include these four main items: (A) What your country position has been on loss and damage commitments; (B) What your country position has been on mitigation commitments coming out of the Paris negotiations in 2015 (COP21); (C) What have been the actual GHG emissions from your country over the past decades; and (D) What are particular issues in climate change that your country has prioritized (e.g. sea level rise, drought, poverty, the economy) in past negotiations (6 points)
  4. On July 19, you and your voting bloc will then take turns briefly sharing the main points and positions that you’ve identified from each of your countries, also noting intersections between countries in your voting bloc (1 point)
  5. Between July 19 and July 27, you will communicate with other members of your voting bloc (before/after class, by email, on the Norlin quad etc) to start preparing a group strategy for upcoming negotiations; you will appoint a lead negotiator to present a 6-minute argumentation on your position on loss and damage, all members of the voting blocs must help these lead negotiators prepare strategies
  6. In class on July 28, your lead negotiator will present the 6-minute argumentation on your voting bloc’s position on loss and damage, also working to convince the other voting blocs of their position while identifying common interests between groups (6 points)
  7. Between July 28 and August 4, voting blocs will be able to negotiate with each other (before class/after class, by email, on the Norlin quad etc) in order to improve possibilities for one’s ‘best deal’ in the final negotiations
  8. In class on August 4, final negotiations on loss and damage will take place; another lead negotiator (different from the appointed lead negotiator for July 28) will each make a statement directed to all voting blocs in the main forum (at that time these negotiators may ask brief questions of other voting blocs); all members of the voting blocs must help these discussants prepare optimally effective strategies; final negotiations will then take place and proposals will be brought to a final agreement by the end of that class session (6 points)
  9. individually complete confidential peer assessments and turn them in on August 7 (1 point)

A few additional comments from the Executive Secretary:

  • while these voting blocs may represent similar loss and damage interests, it is a mistake to expect that everyone in your voting bloc is your ally; ultimately you have been charged with the remit of getting the ‘best deal’ for your own country: so trust can be fleeting, ephemeral
  • frame your arguments in the strongest terms politically and diplomatically palatable/appropriate
  • ordering of arguments will be announced by me on the day of each set of negotiation sessions
  • parties to the negotiations may not walk away from negotiations or from an agreement; all envoys recognize that an agreement must be reached in some form by the conclusion of negotiations


European Union
United Kingdom

African Group

New Zealand

+ Five
People’s Republic of China
South Africa


Group of Seven (minus EU members)
United States of America

Eastern Europe

AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States)
Marshall Islands

OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries)
Saudi Arabia

ALBA (Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América)

Midterm and Final Examinations (20 points; 20 points)

The examinations will both be closed-book and no-note exams. Dates and times for the examinations are final so see me immediately if you anticipate any kind of conflict or problem. The final exam will be cumulative in the sense that it builds from concepts and foundations discussed in the first portion of the course. The content for these examinations will come from the lectures as well as the required readings.

Midterm - Wednesday July 26, during class time
Final Exam - Friday, August 11, during class time