POLIS 2122 - Global Environmental Politics

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2014

Whether it is water security, the global food crisis, climate change, environmental refugees, nuclear energy, human survival or the rights of non-humans, environmental or green politics has established itself as one of the most exciting sites of political contestation around the globe today. This subject is divided into three parts. Part One establishes the theoretical underpinnings, including addressing traditional political theory and the environment, from conservatism to liberalism and neo-liberalism on the right, to Marxist and anarchist responses on the left. Part Two concentrates on environmental politics in Australia, reviewing specific developments over the past thirty years. Part Three moves to the international and transnational realms. Case studies are taken from numerous countries and cultures where people are pursuing green political goals through a myriad of political processes. These range from the informal dynamics of networks, groups and social movements through to the more institutionalised responses of organisations, corporations, mass media, legal systems, political parties, governments and administrative systems. Cases are selected from across the globe: from the more affluent worlds of Europe and North America; to the majority worlds of Africa, South America and Asia.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code POLIS 2122
    Course Global Environmental Politics
    Coordinating Unit Politics and International Relations
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Prerequisites 12 units of Level I study
    Incompatible POLI 2122
    Assessment 2250-3000 word major essay (50%), 1100-1500 word short essay (25%), test (15%), participation (10%)
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Timothy Doyle

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    After successfully completing this course students should:

    1. have gained an understanding of the range of perspectives on environmental issues and how environmental issues may be understood as political issues;

    2. be able to identify and explain the political dimensions of environmental issues, while understanding the particular historical, cultural and social contexts in which they arise;

    3. be able to apply theoretical tools in the analysis of environmental problems and controversies;

    4. be able to identify and formulate effective arguments; and

    5. have increased confidence in their ability to communicate, to think critically, and to participate as a member of a group.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1, 2, 3
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 2, 3, 4
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 2, 3, 4, 5
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 5
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 5
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 1, 2, 3, 5
    A commitment to the highest standards of professional endeavour and the ability to take a leadership role in the community. 5
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 2, 5
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    The compulsory text required for this course is Doyle, T. and McEachern. D. (2008), Environment and Politics, third edition, Routledge: London and New York. This was written specifically for such a group of students. It has recently been massively revised to focus on the global dimension of environmental politics and international relations.
    Recommended Resources
    Obviously, there are a wide array of journals and books which deal with global environmental politics such as Environmental Politics, Taylor and Francis, London. Quality daily newspapers are also an interesting source of ideas and empirical information. 

    For background reading informing my lectures, apart from the required text listed above, I will also be drawing upon to the following works:

    - Additional global and/or transnational material will be selected from Doherty, B. and Doyle T. (eds) (2008) Beyond Borders: Environmental Movements and Transnational Politics, Routledge, New York and London.

    - For third world environmentalism, selections will be taken from Doyle, T.J. (2005) Environmental Movements in Majority and Minority Worlds: A Global Perspective, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, New York and London.

    - Doyle, T. and Risley, M. (eds) (2008) Crucible for Survival: Environmental Security in the Indian Ocean Region, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, New York and London.

    - The Australian material will be largely informed by Doyle, T. and Kellow, A. (1995) Environmental Politics and Policy-Making in Australia, Macmillan: Melbourne, and Doyle, T. (2001) Green Power: the Environmental Movement in Australia.
    Online Learning
    Additional course-related material will be available through MyUni.

    The following documents will be available via MyUni:
    Lecture Content, Course Outline, Explanation of Assessment Tasks.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The division of the course into three parts seeks to provide a balance of theoretical and empirical material. This material will be predominantly delivered through lecture-style presentations, as it is information intensive, reflecting the established research interests of the co-ordinator. Smaller group teaching will take place in the tutorials. Like all courses in the Politics Discipline, the teacher promotes the development of critical and analytic skills, and is built upon the need for students to communicate their ideas in both written essays, and through oral expression in these smaller tutorial groups. Apart from student presentations, these group sessions will be used to address teaching and learning problems/issues, which will potentially arise during the course; as well as providing an opportunity to relate the lecture material with environmental issues as they emerge in the media.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    1 x 2-hour lecture (or equivalent) per week 24 hours per semester
    1 x 1-hour tutorial (or equivalent) per week 12 hours per semester
    4 hours reading per week 48 hours per semester
    2 hours research per week 24 hours per semester
    2 hours assignment preparation per week 24 hours per semester
    2 hours class preparation per week 24 hours per semester
    TOTAL WORKLOAD 156 hours per semester
    Learning Activities Summary
    Weekly Lectures

    1 Welcome, Logistics and Outline of course

    2 An Introduction to Environmental Politics: Modern Environmentalisms and the ‘Three Posts’: Post-Materialism, Post-Industrialism, Post-Colonialism.

    3a) Traditional Political Theory and the Environment I: On the Right - From Conservatism to Liberalism.

    3b) Traditional Political Theory and the Environment II: On the Left - Marxist and Socialist Responses to the Environment.

    4a) First Period of Environmental Politics in Australia I (1960s to mid-1980s): The Ideology of Unrestrained Use.

    4b) First Period of Environmental Politics in Australia II: Pluralism, Structuralism and Playing Outsider Politics. 

    5a) Second Period of Environmental Politics in Australia (mid-1980s to early 1990s): The Ideology of Sustainable Use.

    5b) Third Period of Environmental Politics in Australia (mid-1990s to present): Wise and Sequential Use.

    6a) Majority World Environmentalism I: Transnational Mining in the Philippines.

    6b) Majority World Environmentalism II: Water Politics in India.

    7 The Global Politics of Climate Change.

    8 The Social Movement and Environmental Politics.
    Informal Environmental Politics: Networks and Groups. 
    Mid Semester Break 22 September – 3 October 

    9 Green Non-Governmental Organisations and The Green Public Space: Emancipatory Green Organisations (EGOs) versus the Green Governance State (GGS).

    10 Greening the Mainstream: Party Politics—One-Party States to Liberal Democracies
    The Emergence of the Global Greens
    11a) Business and the Environment: the Politics of Corporation Earth. 

    11b) What can be done? Challenging Paradigms—Environmental Thought, Action and Citizenship.

    12 Course Test (20%).
    Specific Course Requirements
    Not applicable
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    Tutorials will include individual student presentations to the group, small-group activities and semi-structured discussions designed to provide students with a fulfilling 'small group discovery experience'. Small group seminars will be organised around the critical analysis of particular case studies, which include controversies over climate change, food production, population growth, green party politics, and environmental movements.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Tutorial Participation: 10%
    Tutorial Presentation: 10%
    Minor Essay (1000 words): 20% 
    Course Test: 20%
    Major Essay (2250 words): 40%
    Assessment Related Requirements
    No special requirements are to be met prior to the commencement of the course.
    However, prior to lectures each week, readings, largely from the core text, will be set.
    Assessment Detail
    Minor Essay (20%) - Word count: 1000 words

    You should research thoroughly and provide a critical (i.e., theoretically informed) analysis of one of the following environmental issues/controversies using theories and concepts covered in the module. Select and answer one of the following questions:

    - Referring to their place on the political spectrum, Greens have traditionally described themselves as ‘neither left nor right but out in front’. Is this slogan still valid today?

    - Why is climate change met with scepticism in less affluent countries like China and India?

    - Is there time for democratically negotiated reform or is radical direct action needed to tackle environmental problems?

    - Why have some Green parties been more successful than others? (Answer with reference to at least two different countries where Green parties have had contrasting fortunes).

    - Should committed environmentalists choose: (NB: pick only one of these to answer)

          a) to adopt a vegan/vegetarian diet?

          b) to have no more than a ‘replacement number’ of children (i.e., 2)?

    - Is environmentalism dead? 

    - Are GM crops the answer to Earth’s global food crisis?

    - Is the way to avert ‘climate catastrophe’ to go nuclear?

    Tutorial Presentation (10%)

    Students will be expected to complete an oral presentation within a tutorial setting. The major paper will also be the basis of this oral presentation. It is expected that this paper is not ‘read’ directly; but that some of its major points are presented in an interesting fashion, with reference to a bibliography and draft abstract. Suggestions for improvement from the instructor and the class will need to be incorporated into the final written essay. The oral presentation will include handing up a powerpoint presentation or a one page summary of the substance of the argument in (annotated) bullet points, including references.

    Students will be assessed on the content of their presentations:

    - Relevance to module themes
    - Structure
    - Amount of information
    - Critical approach (use of theory, key concepts)
    - Engaging / thought provoking
    - Handling of questions

    As well as their ability:

    - Audibility
    - Clarity and projection of voice
    - Appropriate pace
    - Varied intonation
    - Connects with the audience
    - Confidence
    - Slide design / clarity of annotated notes 

    Course Test (20%)

    Based on course text and lecture material, this short, one-hour test will allow students to demonstrate their grasp of basic concepts conveyed in the course. It will include multiple choice questions and/or short answers.

    Major Essay (40%) - Word count: 2250 words

    The development of written and oral skills remains the foremost objective of the course. This is why the major research essay carries the heaviest weight regarding the students’ assessment for this course. Students are required to research thoroughly and provide a critical (i.e., theoretically informed) research essay using theories, concepts, methods and empirical information covered in the module. 

    The broad focus of the major essay will be to research specific environmental movements from across the world—their ideas and their actions—exploring different ways cultures have interpreted the symbol of environmentalism/s, from political, scientific, economic, philosophical, psychological and religious viewpoints. In short, students will examine what people think and do when acting environmentally in different parts of the globe: i) the collective ideologies, mythologies and cosmologies of the many different environmentalisms; and, ii) the actions themselves—the distinctive kinds of politics engaged in within (and sometimes between) different cultures. These include tactical repertoires, strategies and broad political and campaign approaches. 

    In specific terms, prepare and write a comparative analysis of two environmental movements. Please note, the specific movements presented in the lectures cannot be included. The paper must have a theoretical and an international comparative dimension. Theoretical discussions should be supplemented with case study material. 

    A separate abstract (250 words) will be attached to the front of the major essay when handed in. Students are required to develop their own, individualised abstracts which, in turn, outline the exact questions which each student attempts; lists the order of argument and its exposition; and then provides a précis of basic premises and conclusions which are at the core of the major research paper. Writing papers which conform to an abstract allows the student to develop the skills to frame research in a way which interests them, rather than merely responding to mass, set questions. In addition, it more closely resembles professional academic and journalistic writings.
    - All assignments are to be submitted electronically via MyUni. This is a two-step process:

    1. The assignment needs to be submitted via the Assignments link in the Course Website;

    2. The assignment needs to be submitted to Turnitin, also done via the Course Website.

    In short, you must submit two identical electronic copies, both through the Course Website.

    - Late essays without an extension will be penalized at the rate of 2% per day.

    - Requests for extensions should be directed to your tutor well before the due date. Tutors are not in a position to grant extensions after the due date has passed.

    - Penalties imposed for the late submission will only be waived in cases of illness or exceptional circumstances, in which case relevant evidence will be needed.

    - Essays should be typed, at 1.5 or double-spacing with 3cm margins, be properly referenced and include a full bibliography.

    - Minor Essays will be returned during tutorials or consultation times. If you want your Major Essay returned to you need to give a pre-paid self-addressed envelope to your tutor in the last tutorial.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

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