POLSC537-22A (HAM)

Environmental Politics and Public Policy

30 Points

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Division of Arts Law Psychology & Social Sciences
School of Social Sciences
Political Science and Public Policy


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: melanie.chivers@waikato.ac.nz

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Paper Description

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In this course we will examine the political problems and the politics of natural resource use and management. We will analyse and evaluate the socio­cultural, economic, scientific, ethical and political underpinnings of environmental issues that fundamentally shape the environmental problematique. We will pay particular attention to the theoretical foundations of environmental policy and administration, and learn to think analytically and creatively about the creation and implementation of environmental policy at multiple levels. In doing so, we will examine the challenges and complexities of issues such as climate change, sustainable development, gender and environment, and citizenship. The fundamental objective of this course is to facilitate critical thinking and broad understanding of the complexity and breadth of environmental politics and policy.

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Paper Structure

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As a postgraduate paper, class meetings will involve intensive discussion. I believe that learning happens best when students are actively involved in the learning process through participation in classroom discussions and debates about readings, case studies, films and current affairs. In addition to the course materials provided for us to read and discuss, I encourage you to bring news items, video­ clips, music, links to websites, and other materials that are relevant to our thinking about environmental politics and policies.

Rather than mere comprehension of facts and memorisation of details, we will emphasise higher level cognitive skills such as application, analysis, evaluation, and synthesis. This paper is offered on the assumption that every student is here to learn. Therefore, I expect all students to read assigned materials and to complete writing tasks on time. Part of the course grade will depend on whether students live up to these obligations.

Please plan on doing the following to ensure you get the most out of this paper:

Familiarise yourself with this paper outline, paper requirements and expectations, and all assessments.

Read all assigned materials on time—before coming to class.

Oral and written communication skills are an essential part of education. This paper will help you develop and hone these skills. These skills are not only important in this paper but will be beneficial in your future career and your role as a citizen. I will be as helpful as I can in providing specific suggestions, comments, and encouragement.

In addition to attending these classes, students will be expected to complete assignments and read materials as indicated below. The expected workload for the paper is an average of about 20 hours per week.

There are no prerequisites for this paper other than an interest in the subject matter, college level reading and writing skills, and a willingness to work and to participate actively.


Many of the topics we cover this semester will generate active discussion, questioning, and dialogue. I encourage you to present a range of perspectives, positions, stories and experiences for the consideration of all of us, subject to time availability. We must, however, observe the following conventions in all class meetings:

1.ACTIVE LISTENING—hearing is not the same as listening. Conscious attention to a speaker’s words and potential meanings is essential.

2.RESPECT—showing consideration for alternative viewpoints in a manner which continues the dialogue without denigrating the dignity of other participants.

3.REFLEXIVITY—a willingness to employ self­-critique and consider collegial constructive criticism.

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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the paper should be able to:

  • Demonstrate broad understanding of the nature and complexity of environmental problems and politics.
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  • Demonstrate mastery of some of the core concepts and theories of environmental policy.
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  • Analyse the creation and implementation of environmental policy
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  • Evaluate environmental policy with an appreciation of the socio­cultural, economic, political and ethical aspects of policy.
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  • Evaluate and explain how the challenges of sustainability transform our understandings of citizenship, democracy, and governance.
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  • Apply a set of arguments from one reading to analyse critically a different issue or set of arguments.
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  • Advance a normative position on critical matters of environmental politics and policy, backing this position with sound arguments and evidence.
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  • Demonstrate the above skills in written essays, presentations and class discussions.
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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0. There is no final exam.
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Assessment Components

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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 0% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 0% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of overall markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. Attendance & Participation
  • In Class: In Lecture
  • Online: Moodle Forum Discussion
2. Seminar and leading discussion
  • In Class: In Lecture
3. Reflective Essay
14 Apr 2022
11:30 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
4. Praxis - Participatory Action Essay
13 May 2022
11:30 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
5. Final Research Project
Sum of All
  • In Class: In Lecture
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
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Required and Recommended Readings

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Required Readings

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Dryzek, J. 2013. Politics of the Earth: Environmental Discourses. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Set of articles and book chapters available through the Waikato Reading List. The link to the Reading List is available via the POLSC 537 Moodle Page.

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Recommended Readings

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Highly Recommended Reading

Stone, D. 2012. Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making. New York: WW Norton.

Dryzek, J. & Pickering, J. 2018.The Politics of the Anthropocene. Oxford University Press.

Recommended Readings

Baber, W. and Bartlett, R.V. Deliberative Environmental Politics: Democracy and Ecological Rationality. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005.

Baber, W. and Bartlett, R.V. Global Democracy and Sustainable Jurisprudence. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009. Baber, W. and Bartlett, R.V. Consensus and Global Environmental Governance. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2015.

Bhavnani, K.­K, Foran, J., Kurian, P., & Munshi, D. (eds) Climate Futures: Reimagining Global Climate Justice. London: Zed Books, 2019.

Bhavnani, K.­K, Foran, J., Kurian, P. & Munshi, D. Feminist Futures: Re­imagining Women, Culture and Development, 2nd ed. London: Zed Books, 2016.

Bührs, T. Environmental Integration: Our Common Challenge. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2009.

Bührs, T. and Bartlett, R.V. Environmental Policy in New Zealand: The Politics of Clean and Green? Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Cronon, W. (ed.) Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature. New York: W.W. Norton, 1996. Dobson, A. & Bell, D. (eds) Environmental Citizenship. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006.

Dryzek, J., Norgaard, R., & Schlosberg, D. (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Dryzek, J. & Schlosberg, D. (eds) Debating the Earth: The Environmental Politics Reader. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. Eckersley, R. The Green State: Rethinking Democracy and Sovereignty. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004.

Ehrenfeld, D. The Arrogance of Humanism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981.

Guha, R. and Martinez­Alier, J. (eds) Varieties of Environmentalism. London: Earthscan, 1997. Hajer, M. The Politics of Environmental Discourse, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995.

Haraway, D. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge, 1991. Hayward, B. (2017) Sea Change: Climate Politics and New Zealand. Wellington: Bridget Williams Books.

Kurian, P. A. Engendering the Environment? Gender in the World Bank’s Environmental Policies . Routledge, 2019/2000.

McKibben, B. 2011. Eaarth:Making a Life on a Tough New Planet. New York: St Martin’s Griffins.

Munshi, D. & Kurian, P. (2021) Public Relations and Sustainable Citizenship: Representing the Unrepresented. London: Routledge.

Paehlke, Robert and Douglas Torgerson, eds. Managing Leviathan: Environmental Politics and the Administrative State, 2nd ed. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 2005.

Princen, T., Maniates, M., & Conca, K. (eds). 2002. Confronting Consumption. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Sagoff, Mark. (1988) The Economy of the Earth. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Seager, J. 2014. Carson’s Silent Spring. New York: Bloomsbury. Shiva, V. Water Wars: Pollution, Profits and Privatization, 2002.

Selected Environmental Politics and Policy Journals:

Climatic Change Environmental Politics

Environment and Planning C:Government and Policy

Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning

Journal of Environment and Development

Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences Nature Climate Change

Sustainable Development

Global Environmental Politics

Global Environmental Change

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Online Support

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The paper offers online support through Moodle. Moodle is available on the university website. The paper outline, all lecture notes, and additional resources are available on the POLSC537-­22A Moodle site.

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In addition to attending weekly classes, students will be expected to complete assignments and read materials as indicated. The expected workload for the paper is an average of about 20 hours per week.

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Linkages to Other Papers

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Restricted Papers: POLS537

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