China, the US, and Europe: The Global Politics of Green Growth

The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016. Its aim is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. Implementation of the Paris Agreement requires economic and social transformation. The decarbonization of the global economy is, thus, no longer in question. As of 2021, major economies (the EU, Japan, South Korea, and the United States) have all announced their goals to reach net zero emissions by mid-century while China aims to reach carbon neutrality by 2060. Political will combined with the rapidly declining production costs for clean technologies such as renewables and the electrification of transport are pushing the transition to a net-zero future forward.

Ironically, the transition to a low carbon economy has led to the creation of a new global race over critical minerals, such as rare earths, lithium, and cobalt. This competition has already given rise to a series of fresh global political and economic realities, tensions, and disputes.

In this course, we will examine (i) how major industrial powers are decarbonizing their economies and deploying their new “green” industrial strategies to ensure they are Paris aligned; (ii) the nature of contemporary resource competition; (iii) the way policy decisions are influenced by political rhetoric and public opinion; (iv) the overall economic and political impact of climate change on global political re-alignments and relations between the developed and the developing world; and (v) questions of  social and economic justice, inclusion, and equity of decarbonization and digitalization.

Economic Development and Environmental Change in China
Can China strike a balance between economic development and environmental protection? This question, perhaps the most important question facing China (indeed the world) over the next few decades, pits economy and environment against one another. How did this adversarial relationship come about? Is it necessarily adversarial? Is it rooted in long-term trends in Chinese history, or in the most recent decades of double-digit economic growth? Are there solutions? Or are there better ways of asking the question? This course will look closely at the benefits and the costs of economic growth to society, ecology, and environment in China. The focus in on present dilemmas, examined through an historical perspective.

Introduction to Public Policy
Public policy affects our lives in profound ways even when we are not aware of them. What we eat, how we recycle, or when we disclose personal information on the internet are all examples of choices largely determined by public policies. This course is an introduction to public policy, why it is important, and how it involves simultaneous ethical, political, and problem-solving processes. The course introduces students to the ways in which a variety of actors and institutions at the national and transnational levels interactively contribute to public policy. The course is divided into two parts. The first part provides an overview of the basic concepts underlying the public policy process and the second part provides critical perspectives on public policy-making in theory and practice.

Public Policy Analysis: Case Studies for Effective Formation and Implementation
This course is an intermediate public policy class. Students will build on skills introduced at the intro level such as the drafting of public policy press releases; and how to best frame policy challenges to explain proposed solutions and defend policy decisions. In addition, students will be asked to compile full dossiers on specific public policy issues to allow for policy makers to knowledgeably make effective decisions. Students will learn wider theoretical frames and debates as well as crisis management. The course will cover a wide range of global policy challenges revolving around issues such as immigration, the climate crisis, food quality and security using current case studies. Finally, students will explore the politics of policy-making and learn how to maneuver in a competitive policy environment. Select speakers will share challenges and opportunities that they have encountered in the field based on the case studies that will be explored during the course.

Foundations of Modern Social Thought
The course examines major works of social thought from the beginning of modern era through the 1920s. Attention will be paid to social and intellectual context, conceptual frameworks and methods, and contributions to contemporary social analysis. Writers include Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Adam Smith, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Weber, and Durkheim.

City in Crisis: Refuge and Resilience
By 2030, sixty percent of the world’s population will be living in cities; in fact the majority will be living in megacities. This transformation of urban space is a result of migration from rural areas and across international borders and it presents unprecedented challenges for planners, policy makers, businesses, educators, citizens, migrants/refugees, and the environment. This course will explore the multifaceted challenges that confront cities around the world because, while many programs and policies are local, cities are interconnected and part of a global system. Through their readings students will question the notions of a contemporary city and examine how crisis and revitalization compliment each other, especially in the light of current population movements that will only increase with climate change and the ongoing violence of war. During a week long regional trip, Athens, Greece will serve as a case study of a vibrant historical capital now faced with an unprecedented economic crisis, high unemployment, a large number of refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and economic migrants from as far away as Myanmar. Students’ research will be enriched by a diverse group of faculty and experts who have approached resiliency through multiple disciplines and policy angles. Through readings from the social science literature, policy driven accounts, perspectives of social history, and select works of literature and film, the course will explore possibilities of refuge and resilience in a time of crisis.

Reading the Earth (CORE Humanities)
This course introduces students to a wide variety of cultural perspectives on the ways that nature is conceived in its relation to human agency, social organization, and political behavior. As we become increasingly caught up in a new and ever-changing dynamic of climate change that is transforming cultures and societies globally, understanding our relation to nature becomes a pressing global challenge. How are we to confront the environmental changes caused by industrialization and continuing technological change? How have our views of nature and of ourselves been transformed by urbanization and technological change? Does the global character of production inevitably lead to the dilution of individual and local identities together with previous conceptions of nature? Constructed around a series of discrete problems that will be contextualized historically and culturally, the course strives for a unifying, global perspective on the environmental crisis and will address a range of today’s most pressing eco-critical dilemmas.

Law and Literature (CORE Humanities)
Literature and law have been characterized as two of the most central narrative endeavors of culture, with legal narratives, moreover, wielding an essential component of state power.  When judges engage in the interpretation of an authoritative text they mete out punishment, separate families, and even condemn individuals to death. This course will look both at the multiform ways that law has been portrayed in literature and also how jurisprudence itself can be illuminated by understanding it not just as presenting a surface level of evidence, but also as a narrative whose language must be interpreted and that reflects deeper levels of established social and cultural norms.  We will thus examine, on the one hand, the extent to which literary texts help lawyers understand a larger human dimension that can revitalize their grasp of the ethical nuances of law.  On the other, we will test Dworkin’s claim that we can improve our understanding of the nature of law by comparing legal interpretation with modes of interpretation in other fields of knowledge, particularly literature.  Readings include classic works of literature by writers such as Aeschylus, Sophocles, Qianfu, Marquez, Shakespeare, Soyinka, and Kafka along with the writings of contemporary theorists such as James Boyd White, Martha Nussbaum, Ronald Dworkin, and Richard Posner.

The European Union: Institutions, Policies, and External Affairs

This seminar will examine key issues that will shed light on the building of the European Union, its institutions and goals, its leadership and economic strength, its vision for a low carbon world, its international goals and interests. It will also explore the serious challenges posed by the persisting debt crisis that threatens not only the Eurozone but the political solidarity shown between member states over the last six decades. The course will examine, moreover,  the causes of the growing  divide between the United States and its European Allies and look at ways to rebuild the trust and bonds of friendship that have been crucial in building a freer, more democratic world.