Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Docente: Giulia Cimini
  • Credits: 8
  • SSD: SPS/14
  • Language: English

Learning outcomes

The course aims to provide the students with an understanding of key issues involved in environmental politics, from both a theoretical and practical perspective. Environmental issues will be critically discussed, with particular reference to the role and responsibilities of great powers in the international politics of climate change, power inequality and the global ecological crisis. By the end of the course students: 1) will acquire essential conceptual, theoretical and methodological tools necessary to tackle and understand environmental issues; 2) will know the major interpretations of environmental security; 3) will gain basic knowledge about major environmental powers (United States, China, European Union, India, Brazil, Russia) and international institutions and issue areas (UN Security Council, multilateral environmental agreements, international climate leadership, coal politics); 4) will be able to apply the acquired tools to the analysis of concrete cases.

Course contents

The course will be held in presence in Bologna and simultaneously online ONLY for students enrolled at the campus in Forlì (Please check the "Attendance" section below for further details).

The course is organized in two sections, featuring lectures and seminars respectively.

  • Section A:

    Lectures (8 lectures, 2 hours each, twice a week, for a total of 16 hours), aim to introduce students to the core tenets of the discipline, the main theoretical and policy debates, and key actors involved.

  • Section B:

    Two alternative seminar blocs (6 + 6 seminars, 2 hours each, once a week, for a total of 12 hours each) aim to provide occasions for in-depth discussions of specific topics, based on the theories and concepts examined during the lectures and by focusing on the challenges that characterize environmental governance, security, and responsibilities.


For a full description of the course contents see the list of themes and readings in the section below ("Readings/Bibliography").

Flexibility and changes in the structure and content of the course might take place due to emergency contingencies as well as suggestions from students.


Exchange students

Exchange students are welcome. However, please note that the course is open exclusively to exchange students (Erasmus, Turing, Overseas, …) enrolled in Master’s level degrees at their home institutions. Exchange students at the undergraduate level are NOT entitled to take the course.

Students are responsible for understanding the Unibo grading system and their home institution’s minimum grade requirement for credit transfer. Please note that only grades equal to or greater than 18 (= passing mark) will be recorded and reported on the official transcript.



All students will attend lectures at the same time. As for the seminars, they will be divided into two more or less equal-sized groups, whose members will preferably all work in presence or all remotely. Each group will attend ONLY ONE of the two seminars.

Students of the Bologna campus will attend both lectures and seminars in presence. ONLY students of the Forlì campus can follow classes online on Microsoft Teams. Please, contact the Lecturer on this issue if you have doubts.

Students attend a total of 28 hours of classroom activities (whether in presence or remotely), that is, 8 lectures (twice a week) and 6 seminars (once a week). Since this amount is lower than the amount generally associated with an exam of 8 CFU (40 hours), the course includes a slightly higher number of pages that can be well distributed in the other self-study hours.

This course requires active and constant participation, which will be an integral part of the assessment (for attending students).

Attending-students are those who do not miss more than two classes in each section (lectures & seminars) and participate actively and constantly.


Attending students:

Below is a detailed reading list for section A (Lectures).

Readings for section B (Seminars) will be available on the Unibo online platform VIRTUALE.

Students are expected to have carefully read the required material before each class, especially in section B.

Readings which are not marked as "required" are recommended, in the sense that demonstrating knowledge of them in the take-home and/or in seminar discussions may mean a higher grade.


SECTION A. Lectures

Week 1. (Tuesday, 27 February - Wednesday, 28 February) Course Introduction: Environmental Development, Issues and Themes

  • Falkner, Robert. 2021. “The Origins of Global Environmentalism.” In Environmentalism and Global International Society, Chapter 4: 83-103. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (required)
  • Falkner, Robert. 2021. “The Emergence of Environmental Stewardship as a Primary Institution.” In Environmentalism and Global International Society, Chapter 5: 104-127. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (required)
  • O’Neill, Kate. 2017. “Global Environmental Problems.” In The Environment and International Relations, 28-50. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (required)


  • Jasanoff, Sheila. 2001. “Image and Imagination: The Formation of Global Environmental Consciousness.” In Changing the Atmosphere: Expert Knowledge and Environmental Governance, edited by Clark A. Miller and Paul N. Edwards, 309-337. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.


Week 2. (Tuesday, 5 March - Wednesday, 6 March) The Environment in International Politics: Theories and Approaches

  • O’Neill, Kate. 2017. “Introduction: The Environment and International Relations.” In The Environment and International Relations, 1-27. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (required)
  • Paterson, Matthew. 1996. “Neorealism, Neoinstitutionalism and the Climate Change Convention” In The Environment and International Relations, edited by J. Vogler and M. Imber, 59-76. London & New York: Routledge. (required)
  • Falkner, Robert. 2021. “English School Theory and Global Environmental Politics.” In Environmentalism and Global International Society, Chapter 2: 15-44. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (required)
  • Jackson, Robert et al. (2022). “Major issues in IR: Climate Change, Terrorism, Religion, Power and Hegemony” In Introduction to International Relations: Theories and Approaches, edited by R. Jackson, G. Sørensen and J. Møller, 310-324. New York: Oxford University Press. (required)


  • O’Neill, Kate. 2017. “Conclusions: The Environment and International Relations in the Twenty-First Century.” In The Environment and International Relations, 233-243. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Vogler, John. 1996. “The Environment and International Relations” In The Environment and International Relations, edited by J. Vogler and M. Imber, 1-21. London & New York: Routledge.

Week 3. (Tuesday, 12 March – Wednesday, 13 March) Securitizing the Environment? Environmental Security, and the Climate Change-Conflict Nexus

  • Dabelko, Geoff. 2022. “Environmental Security.” In Contemporary Security Studies, edited by Alan Collins, 247–261. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. (required)
  • Murray, Elizabeth Hope. 2019. “Environmental Security and Conflict.” In Environmental Security: Concepts, Challenges, and Case Studies, edited by John M. Lanicci, Elizabeth H. Murray and James D. Ramsay, 159-175. Boston: American Meteorological Society. (required)
  • Barnett, Jon. 2000. “Destabilizing the Environment-Conflict Thesis.” Review of International Studies 26 (2): 271–288. (required)
  • Salehyan, Idean. 2014. “Climate Change and Conflict: Making Sense of Disparate Findings.” Political Geography 43: 1–5. (required)


  • Falkner, Robert. 2021. “Pluralist constraints” In Environmentalism and Global International Society, Chapter 9: 225-249. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Week 4. (Tuesday, 19 March – Wednesday, 20 March) Environmental Actors, Institutions and Processes: Environmental Responsibilities, Great Powers, and Beyond

  • Falkner, Robert, and Barry Buzan. 2022. “Great Powers and Environmental Responsibilities: A Conceptual Framework.” In Great Powers, Climate Change, and Global Environmental Responsibilities, edited by Robert Falkner and Barry Buzan, 14-48. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (required)
  • Kopra, Sanna. 2022. “Great Power Responsibility and International Climate Leadership.” In Great Powers, Climate Change, and Global Environmental Responsibilities, edited by Robert Falkner and Barry Buzan, 208-226. Oxford: Oxford University. (required)
  • Duit, Andreas, Peter H. Feindt, and James Meadowcroft. 2016. “Greening Leviathan: The Rise of the Environmental State?” Environmental Politics 25 (1): 1–23. (required)


  • O’Neill, Kate. 2017. “Actors in Global Environmental Politics.” In The Environment and International Relations, 51-78. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

SECTION B. Seminars and guest lectures

They will be illustrated in class at the beginning of the course and made available on Virtuale.

    Non-Attending students:

    The material for non-attending students is the same as for attending students.

    It comprises the following:

    1. The reading list of the lectures.
    2. The reading list of one of the two seminars. Therefore, non-attending students must also choose one of the two seminars and its reading list.



    Teaching methods

    The course is organized in lectures and seminars, along the “Y” system.

    • Section A (in common to all students) is the lower part of the Y. It relies mainly on frontal lectures with the use of PowerPoint presentations from time to time.

    Although lectures resemble traditional frontal classes, active participation of students – by asking questions, taking stock of the topics discussed, and requiring additional bibliographical advice – is strongly encouraged.


    • Section B (alternatively, Seminar 1 or Seminar 2) is the upper part of the Y. It will function as a seminar sequence with the active participation of students, discussing different ideas and arguments based on compulsory weekly readings.

    More specifically, students will be asked to engage in critical analysis of selected materials, compare and contrast different case studies, discuss peers' responses, situate their arguments within the relevant scholarly debate, and elaborate independently on the main conceptual points raised during the lectures. Active contribution to seminars is considered extremely important, and it will be subjected to assessment.

    Guided interaction among classmates and with the Lecturer is thought of as a way to consolidate the assigned readings, problematize concepts and improve capabilities in public speaking.

    To this end, students must have prepared the discussion on the concrete topic of the day by carefully reading, and in advance, the texts assigned.

    Lectures by guest scholars and/or policy experts will enrich the seminar parts with additional perspectives and competencies. They are not optional activities, but are an integral part of the class activities.

    Assessment methods


    The final result is made out of two written exams, along the "Take Home" modality:

    1. An intermediate exam (50% of final grade) consisting of 3 Open Questions (max 700 words for each answer) concerning Section A (lectures) and the related readings.

      Exam date: just after the end of the course (mid-May 2024). Those who do not obtain sufficiency in this part (i.e., a grade equal to or higher than 18 out of 30) will be considered, for their marking, as "Non-Attending Students” without writing the essay.

    2. Elaboration of a short essay (50 % of the final grade). The assignment consists of a take-home (open book) essay (also in the form of a research/policy report) of max. 3,000 words, excluding footnotes and references. It will be on a topic of choice from a list made available on Virtuale and discussed in class. Each student will move from either SEM1 or SEM2 topics and link them up with the themes covered during the lectures. Details are to be agreed with the lecturer. The essay must be submitted 15 days before the exam date. Exam Date: Six exam dates are available during the regular Exam sessions (Summer; Winter).

    3. Active and constant participation during classes might improve the mark resulting from the intermediate and final exams by up to two points. Poor participation will negatively affect the overall mark by up to one point.

    N.B. To control the originality of your work, every submission will be checked against any form of plagiarism by the University of Bologna’s software. The full bibliography of the course is included.

    Any delay beyond the submission deadline and any form of plagiarism will invalidate the full tests (intermediate exam and essays) and will be notified to the authorities in charge.


    Procedural steps:

    Intermediate exam

    1. Enroll to AlmaEsami
    2. You will receive an invitation from Microsoft Teams to participate in the intermediate exam on the related date.
    3. On the exam date, the Professor will provide you with the access code and explain the Exam: text, questions, and delivery rules. Time for Q&A. You will access the EOL (Esami On Line) webpage.
    4. You will submit your answers to the Lecturer 75 minutes later.
    5. Results will be published on EOL within the next 15 days.
    6. If your grade is equal to or higher than 18 out of 30, it will then be considered for averaging with the short essay.
    7. If your grade is below 18, you will have to take a comprehensive oral exam covering material from all parts of the course (Sections A and B) during the regular Exam sessions without writing the essay.

    Short essay

    1. Enroll to AlmaEsami.
    2. You will submit your Written Essay to the Lecturer 15 days before the exam date through EOL.
    3. The essay results will be published along with the final grade on EOL within the next 15 days (therefore, by the day of the exam you have enrolled to). You will have 5 days to accept or refuse the final grade. Afterward, the results will be recorded. Only and exclusively those who refuse their results must write an email to the Lecturer.
    4. Those who refuse the final grade will have to take a comprehensive oral exam during the regular Exam sessions, covering material from all parts of the course (Sections A and B).



    The final result is made out of one comprehensive oral interview (around 20-30 minutes) covering material from all parts of the course (Sections A and B).

    The oral interview will be held in presence, in Bologna for all students (of both the Forlì and Bologna campuses), on one of the dates available during the regular Exam sessions (Summer and Winter).

    NB: To take the exam, students have to sign up on AlmaEsami.

    Non-attending students are invited to contact the Lecturer in good time to ensure they understand the study material, the timing, and how best to proceed.



    • Students who pass the exam can refuse a valid final mark and request to re-take the exam) only once - in accordance with the university’s teaching regulations. After rejecting a passing mark (equal or higher to 18), any subsequent passing mark will be recorded in the candidate’s transcripts.
    • The only valid mark is the one achieved in the most recent attempt to pass the exam.
    • Each student is personally responsible for his/her registration for the exam session on AlmaEsami. Registration closes 5 days before the exam. Therefore, it is not possible to sign up for the exam in the 5 days before the exam date.

    • Students with learning disabilities who may need special provisions during exams are required to contact the Lecturer beforehand.

    • Ethical behavior: UNIBO's ethics code binds students. Plagiarism (written exams will be checked with the software Compilation) invalidates the exam, while unethical behavior could be denounced to university authorities.

    • The exam dates cannot be changed for any reason, so students must organize their personal schedule accordingly. In particular, they are strongly recommended to carefully opt for their preferred date, especially if they have other commitments (e.g., need to leave the country, deadlines for recording their marks, and/or graduate). Please, do not assume to do everything at the last minute.

    Criteria for evaluation:

    As for the open-questions intermediate test, the following will be assessed:

    • accuracy of information
    • ability to grasp and synthesise the main aspects
    • clarity of exposition
    • references to the literature and authors
    • ability to elaborate further
    • property of language

    The essay's assessment will be based on:

    • selection of the topic and its relevance to the course content
    • clarity of research question/puzzle addressed, structure, arguments, and aims
    • handling of the scholarship, and ability in making connection with the relevant literature explored in class and deepened independently
    • ability to identify relevant bibliography (minimum 4 academic articles/book chapters)
    • critical skills in the presentation of the topic
    • language proficiency and the use of specialized vocabulary
    • punctuality in delivery and adherence to instructions given (e.g., template, referencing style)

    Participation is assessed in terms of:

    • attendance
    • active interaction reflecting the fulfillment of reading and other assignments
    • ability to analyze the reading assignments and critically speak about them
    • ability to link up to the literature's content and themes explored during lectures
    • skills in making connections between different texts in order to build an argument
    • use of specialized vocabulary


    Grading policy (for both attending and non-attending students)

    The final overall grade will be in the range of 18-30:

    17 or below: fail: insufficient grasp of the material

    18-20: pass, barely sufficient understanding of the material

    21-23: satisfactory, partial grasp of the material. Elementary knowledge of the subject not always correct, sufficient expository ability, sufficiently appropriate use of concepts

    24-25: good grasp of the subject, reasonably correct expositive ability, fair use of concepts

    26-27: very good knowledge of the subject, good presentation skills, good use of concepts

    28-30: excellent, confident grasp of all the material and some interesting insights, precise knowledge of the subject, very good presentation skills, very good use of concepts

    30 cum laude: outstanding, sure grasp of all the material and many interesting insights. Precise knowledge of the subject matter, very good presentation skills, very appropriate use of concepts, and relevant personal reworking of knowledge.

    Teaching tools

    The course will use:

    • Microsoft Teams (ONLY for students enrolled in Forlì)
    • The platform Virtuale (please make yourself familiar with it)
    • PowerPoint slides of the lectures and audio-visuals whenever necessary. They will be provided at the end of each weekof the course. However, please note that they will be neither comprehensive nor fully self-explanatory of the material. Please do not assume that you can do the necessary work at the last minute.

    Office hours

    See the website of Giulia Cimini


    Affordable and clean energy Climate Action Peace, justice and strong institutions Partnerships for the goals

    This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.