[F&ES 854b] / 2014-2015

Institutions and the Environment 

Credits: 3

Spring 2015: Time and location TBA


One of the most critically important questions facing those seeking to promote environmental stewardship of the worlds biosphere is to understand better what types of local, domestic, global and non-state institutions might best promote meaningful and enduring environmental problem solving. The purpose of this seminar is to review key works in political science and related disciplines on institutions to assess their direct or indirect implications for environmental governance, stewardship, and effectiveness. The course assesses perspectives from rational choice, historical, and sociological institutionalism that have permeated comparative public scholarship; the treatment of institutions with international relations literature; the attention that common property scholars have placed on understanding the development of local institutions; and the emergence and proliferation of private governance institutions. We will pay particular attention to two institutional scholars who have made significant and sustained contributions: Oran Young and Elinor Ostrom. We will explore the implications of their assumptions and theoretical underpinnings for shaping how practitioners view, solve, and promote, environmental problems. To accomplish this, the second half will assess how each of these scholars views key environmental challenges. The specific environmental problems to be addressed will be developed following input from students.

NOTE: The class has been developed for doctoral students and highly motivated masters students, including those working on MESc degrees or those plan to undertake doctoral studies. Owing to the seminar format the class will be capped at 12