SOS321 - Policy and Governance of Sustainable Systems

When we view the Earth’s environment as an integrated, global system, we cannot avoid dealing with a wide array of the political questions associated with it. Environmental issues often transcend national boundaries, but the rules and regimes that govern them are still dependent on national policies, resulting in either cooperation or conflict among different nations and stakeholders of these issues. Therefore, any solution to the major global environmental and sustainability challenges (e.g., climate change, deforestation, threatened biodiversity, energy demand) must consider both the scientific understanding of these environmental problems as well as the politics and policies governing them. Solutions to these problems also require integration of theory and practice, as well as micro-level program analysis and macro-level policy analysis.

Course Objective and Learning Outcomes

The main objective of this course is to introduce students to public policy, decision-making, and the key elements of the policy process associated with sustainability policies and governance. It explores the US and international sustainability cases and policy processes. There is a good balance of theories and applications in the course, since the two cannot be separated in the real world.

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • debate the fundamentals of environmental policy and governance theories and concepts;

  • describe the processes, and institutions of environmental policies in the US and globally;

  • apply their systems thinking on sustainability policies and communication strategies; and

  • show collaborative research skills on policy analysis and sustainability projects.

Required textbooks

  • Bickers, Kenneth & John T. Williams. (2001). Public Policy Analysis: A Political Economy Approach. Houghton-Mifflin

  • Layzer, Judith A. & Sara R. Rinfret (2020). The Environmental Case: Translating Values into Policy. Fifth Edition. Washington, DC: CQ Press. ISBN: 978-1506396965