Governing Climate and Environmental Change: Science, Policy and Politics

  • Summer schools
  • Department of Geography and Environment
  • Application code SS-IR104
  • Starting 2020
  • Short course: Open
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

UPDATE: Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic we will no longer be offering this course in summer 2020. Please check our latest news on this situation here.  

You can still register your interest in this course for 2021 using the ‘Sign up’ button to the right.  

Humans are increasingly impacting the climate and other environmental systems. Yet how can we understand such changes? What are governments, businesses and communities doing to govern climate and other environmental changes? And what is the role of science, politics and power in climate and environmental governance? This course seeks to address these and similar questions.

The course provides a unique, inter-disciplinary introduction to the governance of climate and environmental change. Students are introduced to the science of regional and global environmental change, and frameworks for understanding the relationship between humans and biophysical systems. This is followed by an examination of the different policies, instruments and approaches used by different actors to govern climate and environmental change. These include government, market (e.g. businesses) and civil society (e.g. NGOs and community groups) actors. Finally, the course reflects on the politics of environmental change, providing students with a critical perspective on contemporary forms of climate and environmental governance.

Throughout the course, real-world examples will be used to ground and illuminate the material covered in the lectures and classes. Additionally, two half-day field courses are included, exploring issues of urban climate change governance in London. The lectures will be taught by full-time LSE faculty, all of whom are also active researchers in the area of climate and environmental change and governance.

Session: Three
Dates: 3 – 21 August 2020
Lecturers: Dr Richard Perkins, Dr Kasia Paprocki, and Dr Thomas Smith


Programme details

Key facts

Level: 100 level. Read more information on levels in our FAQs

Fees:  Please see Fees and payments

Lectures: 36 hours 

Classes: 18 hours

Assessment*: One issue brief (50%) and one written examination (50%)

Typical credit**: 3-4 credits (US) 7.5 ECTS points (EU)

*Assessment is optional

**You will need to check with your home institution

For more information on exams and credit, read Teaching and assessment



Programme structure

Section 1: Introduction

  • The nature, challenges and politics of climate and environmental change

Section 2: Scientific perspectives

  • Frameworks for understanding climate and environmental change
  • The science of global and regional change
  • Fixing the future: Adaptation, Mitigation, and Geoengineering

Section 3: Governing climate and environmental change

  • Governance by the state: the changing role of governments in environmental regulation
  • Governance by markets (1): eco-business and climate changes strategies
  • Governance by markets (2): responsible investment and climate finance
  • Critical perspectives: symbolic policy and greenwashing
  • Governing technology: carbon lock-in and low-carbon transitions
  • Governance by civil society: communities and collective action

Section 4: The politics of climate and environmental change

  • Political ecologies of development and climate adaptation
  • Contesting environmental governance: social movements and solidarity

Two half-day field trips: urban climate governance in London

Course outcomes

Students who have successfully completed the course should have:

  • A sound knowledge and understanding of the science, policy and politics of climate and environmental change
  • An awareness of the role of knowledge, interests and power in contemporary environmental policy and governance
  • An understanding of, and an ability to critically assess, contemporary policy approaches to climate change and environmental governance
  • Knowledge and skills to communicate to non-academic audiences on the science, policy and politics of climate and environmental change

The course will be well-suited to:

  • Existing undergraduate students from a range of disciplines wishing to develop and broaden their understanding of the science, policy and politics of climate and environmental change
  • Current undergraduates or recent graduates thinking of applying for an MSc degree in an climate change-/environment-related area
  • Young professionals who need to develop their understanding of climate and environmental policy and governance issues


LSE Geography and Environment excels in the UK's nationwide assessment of research quality, impact and environment and in subject-based worldwide university ranking systems. The Research Excellence Framework results published in December 2014 show that LSE Geography and Environment ranked first overall in the UK for quality of published research output. 

The 2018 QS World University faculty rankings for Geography and Area Studies ranked the department No.2 in the world on the overall score, and No.1 for academic reputation. The Guardian’s university league tables 2016 also ranked the LSE No.1 for Geography and Environmental Studies.

On this three week intensive programme, you will engage with and learn from full-time lecturers from the LSE’s Geography and Environment faculty. 

Reading materials

There is no single text which covers all the themes addressed in the course. However, the following are indicative of some of the course content:

Evans, J. (2012). Environmental Governance. Routledge, Abingdon.

Rasche, A., Morsing, M. and J. Moon (eds). (2017) Corporate Social Responsibility: Strategy, Communication, Governance. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 

Robbins, P. (2012). Political Ecology: A Critical Introduction. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford

Rockström, J. and M. Klum (2015). Big World, Small Planet: Abundance within Planetary Boundaries. Yale University Press, London.

 *A more detailed reading list will be supplied prior to the start of the programme

**Course content, faculty and dates may be subject to change without prior notice

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