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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Karen T Litfin
POL S 422
Seattle Campus

International Environmental Politics Seminar

Study of the practical and theoretical challenges associated with global ecological interdependence. Examination of international treaties and institutions, state, and nonstate actors with an emphasis on the emerging concept of sustainability.

Class description

Description: Can existing institutions respond adequately to the challenge of global ecological interdependence? What are the underlying social, political and ethical roots of global environmental degradation? How does all of this play out in the context of global inequality and injustice? This course will seek to answer these theoretical questions in light of recent practical efforts to deal with trans-boundary environmental problems like tropical deforestation, acid rain and ozone losses. We will also explore our personal role in global environmental issues, with an emphasis on our relationship to consumption and waste.

Student learning goals

Critical and analytical thinking skills with respect to global environmental issues

Enhanced ability to articulate your ideas orally and in writing

A deeper appreciation and understanding of the systemic nature of world problems, especially the interface between social structures and nature

An ability to link your personal life, both subjectively and materially, to the global sphere

General method of instruction

Lectures, discussion, Q&A, small group exercises, student presentations, videos

Recommended preparation

Texts: Pamela Chasek, et al. Global Environmental Politics (4th ed.) Westview Press, 2004; Paul Hawken, Blessed Unrest, Viking, 2007; Gay Hawkins, The Ethics of Waste (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006); Thomas Homer-Dixon, The Upside of Down (Island Press, 2008), Chris Martenson, The Crash Course, John Wiley, 2011.

Class assignments and grading

Assignments: There will be a midterm examination, a short paper and a final synthesis paper. Each student will participate in a group presentation of one set of readings. Students are expected to participate actively in discussion.

Grading: Midterm Exam: 20%; Short paper: 20%; Reading presentation: 10%; Final synthesis paper: 30%; Class participation: 20%.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Karen T Litfin
Date: 11/15/2011