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Power, Politics and the Environment


STVN17 Political Science: Power, Politics, and the Environment

For a long time, the question of power has played a minor role in the literature on environmental politics and transformation. This course brings together these two themes.

Such a combination is instructive for several reasons. First and generally, applying different theories and their concepts of power provides a range of perspectives for explaining and interpreting environmental governance - and, at the same time, it helps to identify key differences, strengths and weaknesses of the different theories. Second, environmental politics is marked by a high relevance of non-state actors and processes that seek to fill public governance gaps.

A power-based focus helps to understand the corresponding power shifts within and between public and private sectors. Third, the diffusion of environmental effects across space and time has altered existing power relations and calls for new conceptualizations of responsibility, legitimacy and justice. Fourth, uncertainty over the causation and consequences of environmental crises has empowered knowledge brokers like scientists and experts and increases the relevance of constructivist concepts like discursive and cognitive power.