POL S 403 A: Advanced Seminar in International Relations

Meeting Time: 
MW 12:30pm - 2:20pm
SMI 107
Prof. Aseem Prakash
Aseem Prakash

Syllabus Description:

September 25, 2018


Climate Politics and Governance

(POL S 403b)

Aseem Prakash

Fall 2018

________                    _____________________________________________________________________________________________


Class                                  Time:  Monday and Wednesday, 12:30-2:20 

Location:                        Smith 107

Office Hours:               By appointment

Office:                              39 Gowen

E-mail:                             aseem@uw.edu

Home Page:                  http://faculty.washington.edu/aseem/



Course Objective

Climate change is perhaps the defining challenge of our time. It affects critically every aspect of our life. It is therefore not surprising that climate governance is complex and contested. There are several ways climate policies can support economic growth and create new opportunities. But climate policies can also create winners and losers and create social conflict. This undergraduate seminar will examine important policy issues in climate governance such as mitigation and adaptation policies, climate migration, climate justice, and climate finance. We will examine how well the existing approaches and institutions are working, and what new initiatives can help us respond to the climate challenge.



Most readings are uploaded on Canvas. If not, please see:

  • whether the syllabus includes a web link or URL,
  • Copy and paste the article title in <scholar.google.com> to check the possibility of downloading this article directly from the appropriate website.


This is a Device Free Class

Research suggests that the use of electronic devices in class can be distracting for you and for your colleagues. Therefore, to enhance your learning experience, you are not allowed to use phones, tablets, laptops or any Internet connectable devices. Please take notes by hand by using a pen and a note book.


Course Expectations

This course requires active student participation. You are expected to energetically and thoughtfully contribute to class discussions in the following ways.



Writing Memos

Article memos

For every session, students will be assigned an article to present and critique. The discussant-presenter should prepare a two-page (single-spaced) “Article Memo” which summarizes the article, examines its strengths and weaknesses, and identifies questions it raises for future research. Please email this memo to me by Sunday noon for the Monday class, and by Tuesday noon for the Wednesday class. The discussant-presenter should budget about 10-15 minutes for the in-class oral presentation.  Remember, this is a device-free class; the presenter is welcome to bring along a printed copy of the memo. In the course of this quarter, you will probably be assigned to present 3 or 4 articles.


Key questions memo

I expect seminar participants to review all the assigned readings prior to the class.  Based on these readings for a given session, you will write a “Key questions” memo.  In this memo, identify two or three questions or issues that emerge from the assigned readings, along with a rationale as to why these questions are important. Your “Key Questions Memo” should be about one-page (single-spaced) and reach me by Sunday noon for the Monday class, and by Tuesday noon for the Wednesday class.


I have divided the course into three modules with about seven class sessions for every module.  You need to write 2 key question memos (for two different class sessions) from every module (this means, 6 key question memos in total). Think of Module 1. Suppose you like readings from session 3. After reading the articles assigned for this session, think of two or three overarching questions that you believe emerge from these readings and should be discussed in the class. Of course, if you are assigned to present a specific article for session 3 (and write an article memo), you will not write a key questions memo.



Research Paper

Identify two countries, cities, or firms and compare how they are responding to climate change. Specifically:


-             Identify two units you wish to study;
-             Briefly explain how are they similar or different (the rationale for comparing them)?
-             Specify the policies (mitigation and/or adaptation) you will be comparing;
-             Why are you focusing on these policies; what do you think they might reveal about

these units' climate policies;
-             Do you expect the responses of these units will be similar or different? Why?; 
-             The "therefore what?" question: how do you think this study might move forward

your understanding of climate policy.




Please write in regular prose and not in bullet points. One page outline is due October 24 and a five-page (single-spaced; excluding references and tables) research paper is due December 5. We will also schedule presentations (10 minutes per student) towards the end of the quarter



Article Memos:                            30 points

Key Questions Memos:           30 points

Class Participation:                   20 points

Research Paper:                          10 points

Research Presentation            10 points



I reserve the right to change the syllabus without prior notice.


Class Schedule

________________________________________Module 1________________________________________


Session 1

Wednesday, September 26

Introduction to the course


Session 2

Monday, October 1



  • The nightmare scenario for Florida’s coastal homeowners: Demand and financing could collapse before the sea consumes a single house


·       An Insurance Executive explains why we need a carbon tax


Session 3

Wednesday, October 3

Perspective and approaches

  • E Ostrom. 2010. Polycentric systems for coping with collective action and global environmental change. Global Environmental Change, 20, 550-557.
  • Sunstein. 2007. On the divergent American reactions to terrorism and climate change. Columbia Law Review, 503-557.
  • Selby, O. Dahi, C. Fröhlich, and M. Hulme, 2017. Climate change and the Syrian civil war revisited. Political Geography, 60, 232-244


Session 4

Monday, October 8

Opposition to climate mitigation

  • Brulle. 2014. Institutionalizing delay: foundation funding and the creation of US climate change counter-movement organizations. Climatic Change, 122(4), 681-694.
  • A McCright and R. Dunlap. 2011. Cool dudes: The denial of climate change among conservative White males in the United States. Global Environmental Change, 21, 1163-1172.
  • Tribes that live off Coal hold tight to Trump’s promises


  • The end of Coal will haunt the Navajo



Session 5

Wednesday, October 10

Barriers to climate response

  • Rickards, J. Wiseman, and Y. Kashima. 2014. Barriers to effective climate change mitigation: the case of senior government and business decision makers. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 5, 753-773.
  • Dolsak and A. Prakash. 2015. Confronting the “China Excuse:" The political logic of climate change adaptation, Solutions, 6, 27-29.


  • Coglianese and S. Starobin. 2017. The legal risks of regulating climate change at the subnational level. Accessible at:


  • Why is California rebuilding in fire country? Because you’re paying for it




Session 6

Monday, October 15

New issues


  • Ricke, L. Drouet, K. Caldeira and M. Tavoni. 2018. Country-level social cost of carbon. Nature Climate Change.
  • MacMartin, K. Ricke, and D. Keith. 2018. Solar geoengineering as part of an overall strategy for meeting the 1.5 C Paris target. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 376, 20160454.


___________________________________________ Module  2 ________________________________________________


Session 7

Wednesday, October 17

Adaptation approaches

  • Dolsak and A. Prakash. 2018. The politics of climate change adaptation, Annual Review of Environment and Resources, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325607009_The_Politics_of_Clima... Adaptation
  • Anguelovski, E. Chu, and J. CarminJ. 2014. Variations in approaches to urban climate adaptation: Experiences and experimentation from the global South. Global Environmental Change, 27, 156-167.
  • In the waterlogged Netherlands, climate change is considered neither a hypothetical nor a drag on the economy. Instead, it’s an opportunity.



Session 8

Monday, October 22

Incorporating adaptation in the policy process

  • Ingty. 2017. High mountain communities and climate change: adaptation, traditional ecological knowledge, and institutions. Climatic Change. 145, 41–55.
  • Ayers, S. Huq, A. Faisal, and S. Hussain. 2014. Mainstreaming climate change adaptation into development: a case study of Bangladesh. WIREs Climate Change, 5, 37–51.
  • Næss, G. Bang, S. Eriksen, and J. Vevatne. 2005. Institutional adaptation to climate change: flood responses at the municipal level in Norway. Global Environmental Change, 15, 125-138.




Paper outline is due

Session 9

Wednesday, October 24

Droughts and climate change

  • Wilhite, et al. 2014. Managing drought risk in a changing climate: The role of national drought policy. Weather and Climate Extremes, 3, 4–13.
  • Kiem. 2013. Drought and water policy in Australia: Challenges for the future illustrated by the issues associated with water trading and climate change adaptation in the Murray–Darling Basin. Global Environmental Change, 23, 1615-1626.
  • Joy C.-Y. Muller. 2014. Adapting to climate change and addressing drought – learning from the Red Cross Red Crescent experiences in the Horn of Africa. Weather and Climate Extremes, 3, 31-36.


Session 10

Monday, October 29

Climate migration

  • Brzoska and C. Fröhlich. 2016. Climate change, migration and violent conflict: vulnerabilities, pathways and adaptation strategies, Migration and Development, 5, 190-210,
  • Nawrotzki, R. et al. 2015. Climate change as a migration driver from rural and urban Mexico. Environmental Research Letters,
  • Maldonado, J., et al. 2013. The impact of climate change on tribal communities in the US: displacement, relocation, and human rights. Climatic Change, 120, 601-614.


Session 11

Wednesday, October 31

Gender and climate change

  • McCright. 2010. The effects of gender on climate change knowledge and concern in the American public. Population and Environment, 32, 66-87.
  • Arora-Jonsson. 2011. Virtue and vulnerability: Discourses on women, gender and climate change. Global Environmental Change, 21, 744-751.
  • Djoudi and M. Brockhaus. 2011. Is adaptation to climate change gender neutral? Lessons from communities dependent on livestock and forests in northern Mali. International Forestry Review, 13, 123-135.


Session 12

Monday, November 5

Climate justice

  • Roberts and B. Parks. 2009. Ecologically unequal exchange, ecological debt, and climate justice: The history and implications of three related ideas for a new social movement. International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 50, 385-409.
  • Fabricant. 2013. Good living for whom? Bolivia’s climate justice movement and the limitations of indigenous cosmovisions. Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies, 8, 159-178.
  • Dolsak and A. Prakash. 2018. A green economy must achieve climate justice. The Regulatory Review, September 27. https://www.theregreview.org/2018/09/27/dolsak-prakash-green-economy-ach...


___________________________________________Module 3____________________________________________


Session 13

Wednesday, November 7

Climate insurance

  • Mills. 2009. A global review of insurance industry responses to climate change. The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance-Issues and Practice, 34, 323-359.
  • A broke, and broken, flood insurance program


  • The Jersey shore would rather fight flooding with walls than retreat


  • Botzen, et al. 2010. Climate change and increased risk for the insurance sector: a global perspective and an assessment for the Netherlands. Natural Hazards, 52, 577-598.


Monday Nov 12:

No class, Veterans Day


Session 14

Wednesday, November 14

Climate finance

·       M. Jakob, J. Steckel, C, Flachsland, and L. Baumstark. 2015. Climate finance for developing country mitigation: Blessing or curse? Climate and Development, 7(1),  https://www.pik-potsdam.de/members/jakob/publications/jakob-et-al-climat...

·       J. Linnerooth-Bayer and S. Hochrainer-Stigler. 2015. Financial instruments for disaster risk management and climate change adaptation. Climatic Change, 133, 85.

·       Rising seas may wipe out these Jersey towns, but they're still rated AAA



Session 15

Monday, November 19

Climate litigation

  • Peel. 2011. Issues in climate change litigation. Carbon & Climate Law Review, 15.
  • Climate change warriors’ latest weapon of choice is litigation


·       The unintended consequences of climate litigation


  • McCormick ,, R. Glicksman, S. Simmens, L. Paddock, D. Kim, and B. Whited. 2018. Strategies in and outcomes of climate change litigation in the United States. Nature Climate Change, 1.


Session 16

Wednesday, November 21

Business dimension

  • Mirasgedis, et al. 2014. The impact of climate change on the pattern of demand for bottled water and non-alcoholic beverages. Business Strategy and the Environment, 23, 272–288.
  • Ansar, B. Caldecott, and J. Tilbury. 2013. Stranded assets and the fossil fuel divestment campaign: what does divestment mean for the valuation of fossil fuel assets?. pages 1-18.
  • . Carberry, P. Bharati, D. Levy, and A. Chaudhury. 2017.

Social movements as catalysts for corporate social innovation: Environmental activism and the adoption of green information systems. Business & Society.


Research Paper is due

Session 17

Monday, November 26

Carbon labels

  • Gössling and R. Buckley. 2016. Carbon labels in tourism: persuasive communication?. Journal of Cleaner Production, 111, 358-369.
  • Van Loo, et al. 2014. Consumers’ valuation of sustainability labels on meat. Food Policy, 49, 137-150
  • Horne. 2009. Limits to labels: The role of eco‐labels in the assessment of product sustainability and routes to sustainable consumption. International Journal of Consumer Studies33, 175-182.


Session 18

Wednesday, November 28

In-class presentations


Session 19

Monday, December 3

In-class presentations


Project report is due

Session 20

Wednesday, December 5

In-class presentations

Catalog Description: 
Examination of contemporary developments in the field of international relations. Content varies according to the nature of developments and research interests of the instructor.
Department Requirements: 
International Relations Field
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 9:10pm