Fall 2017: Comparative Energy and Environmental Governance (SA.680.796)
How are public policies addressing energy and environmental problems designed and implemented at various levels of governance? Why are certain pressing energy and environmental problems addressed, while others ignored? What drives some nations, but not others, to embrace renewable energy and decrease reliance on fossil fuels? Moving beyond the idea that differences in public opinion are primarily to blame for such variation, this course focuses instead on how the design of the state itself influences energy and environmental governance outcomes. Regime type, electoral systems, party rules, fiscal structures, and institutions that determine regional and municipal policy-making authority have enormous impact on policy design and implementation. In addition, energy and environmental problems span regional and national borders, often mapping poorly onto existing governance institutions and spawning a range of unintended consequences. To systematically examine the link between state institutions and energy and environmental governance, this discussion-intensive seminar applies theories and concepts from literatures on comparative politics to topics in energy and environment, moving gradually from multilateral institutions, through institutions at the national, regional, and municipal levels. The course ends with a class on non-state, market-based governance institutions. To facilitate detailed, comparative analysis and in-class discussion, each week introduces a range of empirical cases drawn primarily from China, Germany, and the United States.
Fall 2017: The Politics of Water in Developing Economies (SA.680.854)
Mastering the dual challenges of containing water pollution and managing water scarcity have long been central to economic development, and are only becoming more critical in an era of climate change. As citizens, industry, agriculture, and the energy sector compete over this limited resource, the role of adjudicating among competing interests and enforcing such solutions has traditionally fallen to the state. Yet particularly in developing economies, states often lack the fiscal and administrative resources for effective water governance. High levels of inequality exclude groups of citizens from defending their claims against the private sector. Urban and rural areas often compete rather than collaborate in struggles over water access. This course takes an explicitly comparative perspective to systematically examine how developing economies have managed the domestic politics of water as a resource. From big-state solutions during an era of large-scale infrastructure investment, market-based approaches during the Washington Consensus, to a recent resurgence of state intervention led by China, the role of the state in water management has changed fundamentally over time. Drawing on empirical cases from Asia, Africa, and Latin America, the course investigates how prevailing theories about the role of the state in economic development have influenced state approaches to governing water. Moving beyond technocratic solutions that see water management primarily as an engineering task, the course explores how strategies for water governance are politically contested and reflect the shifting distribution of power among different societal groups. In addition to providing a broad survey of contemporary international water issues, the course offers students practice in comparative policy analysis and develops an analytical toolkit for policy-making in a developing economy context.
Spring 2018: Renewable Energy (SA.680.797)
Given the challenges presented by climate change, environmental degradation, and resource scarcity, virtually everybody agrees that “business as usual” in energy production and consumption is no longer tenable. However, for all the compelling reasons to increase the share of energy generated from renewable sources, the development of renewable energy sectors has varied widely across countries. In some economies, more than 30 percent of electricity are now generated from renewable sources, while others have made few attempts to establish domestic renewable energy sectors. This course examines what's driving remarkable renewable energy growth in some countries while others lag behind. To understand such variation, this course provides an in-depth look at the policies and economics of renewable energy – from large scale wind and solar to distributed generation (DG) resources such as rooftop solar, micro-grids, and storage in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Weekly, discussion-intensive class meetings examine how specific national and state policies are driving growth in renewable energy sectors, how these policies impact renewable energy projects (large and small scale), how and why these policies have differed across nations and over time, and what factors have contributed to policy failure.