Teaching Environmental Politics

I recently decided to split my environmental politics course into two rotating courses — one on US Environmental Politics and Policy, which I taught this past spring, and one on Global Environmental Politics, which I will teach next spring.  In thinking about how I would teach the latter course, I encountered an interesting tradeoff between emphasizing environmental issues in international relations and comparing environmental governance across countries.  I was curious about how other professors have dealt with this tradeoff, and exploring it further with them in person.  I therefore wrote and presented a paper on the topic, “Engaging the International Relations and Comparative Politics Nexus:A Content Analysis of Global Environmental Politics Syllabi and Texts,” at the International Studies Association annual conference in Atlanta this past spring.  I found that the 43 global or international environmental politics syllabi I analyzed did not cover a common set of issues, concepts, or theories.  They also generally did not take a comparative national perspective, and were more likely to focus on international issues and institutions.  While this lack of a holistic, multi-level approach to the teaching of environmental politics is concerning, it also represents an opportunity to more effectively bring together the insights of comparative politics and international relations scholars on environmental challenges. 

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