Understanding Global Challenges: Theoretical Foundations
- ECTS credits10
- Teaching semesterAutumn
- Course codeGOV351
- Number of semesters1
Level of Study
Objectives and Content
What are global challenges and how do we understand them from a political science perspective? Understanding global challenges: theoretical foundations is a graduate research course that explores the nature and role of the transnational governance regime for understanding and tackling global challenges. The course provides the conceptual and theoretical tools for understanding policy complexity as well as an increasingly complex and interwoven decision-making structure for global challenges, including global, national and local as well as public and private actors and organizations.
The course will proceed in two parts. Firstly, students will develop an understanding of global challenges and critically investigate how they are addressed at different levels and by different actors. Secondly, students will examine and discuss central theoretical approaches to understanding global challenges:
- The role of complexity in addressing global challenges such as climate change, migration, pandemics and inequality
- Interactions and interdependence between different norms, actors and policy levels involved in tackling key global challenges
- Mobilization for framing complex problems, creating agency and securing accountability for responsible action
- Trade-offs between legitimacy, effectiveness, efficiency in governance
In addition to formal lectures, students will approach these themes through project-based learning: student-driven investigation of selected real-world problems through different theoretical lenses.
- has conceptual knowledge to identify global challenges and the related policy and organizational complexities
- has in-depth knowledge of key political science approaches to explaining the politics and governance of global challenges in different settings
- demonstrates extensive knowledge of the global governance regime and selected national and local approaches to addressing some selected global challenges
The student can
- align abstract theories and concepts, empirical knowledge about policy responses to global challenges, and the political science analysis of different governance approaches
- recognize the potential and limitations of specific theories and approaches for opening (or closing) specific routes of inquiry on the politics and governance of global challenges
- identify key dilemmas and trade-offs in the politics and governance of global challenges, expose normative choices, and discuss the power dynamics shaping policy
- provide practical applications of theory through written and oral presentations and in discussions with relevant actors in public policy and administration
The student can:
- work in groups - both physically and in digital formats - to address complex challenges
- make independent and professional assessments of policies, relevant organizations and institutional arrangements
- assess the importance of local context (economy, power relations, culture, history) and local activism (e.g., litigation, social movements) for political action and transformation
Required Previous Knowledge
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
Access to the Course
The course is open to students who have been accepted to the Master's programme in Politics and Governance of Global Challenges. Exchange students may be accepted upon application.
Teaching and learning methods
10-12 lectures, final student conference, and 4/8 seminars (1 or 2 per student, divided into groups. Work presented at conference organized by students).
Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
- four reflection notes (5- 6 pages each) delivered throughout the semester
- one group presentation with a 2-page handout during the final student conference (all group members must be equally involved in the group work)
The compulsory assignments must be approved in order to take the exam. Students receive teacher feedback and suggestions for improvement on each reflection note.
Forms of Assessment
- four revised reflection notes (see above) and
- A synthesis note (3-4 pages) drawing out key advantages and drawbacks of key theoretical perspectives when explaining the politics and governance of global challenges, as well as complementarities and/or tensions between these theories.
Assessment in teaching semester. Students who have a valid document of absence or fail the exam may take a new exam in the following semester.
The reading list will be ready before 1 July for the autumn semester and 1 December for the spring semester.
All courses are evaluated according to UiB's system for quality assurance of education.
The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.
Course coordinator and administrative contact person can be found on Mitt UiB.
Department of Government at the Faculty of Social Sciences has the administrative responsibility for the course and the study programme.