ASTK15741U COURSE: Environmental Politics - Climate Change in a Narrative Governance Perspective

Volume 2017/2018

This course will explore how climate change in relation to governance is understood as both physical and cultural phenomena. To do this, the course will introduce and apply a Narrative Governance approach through key examples of theoretical narratives and empirical narratives of climate change governance. Central questions in the course are: How does climate change feature in narratives of climate change governance? Why do we disagree about climate change? What is Narrative Governance and how does it help us explain and understand climate change?

In order to better grasp the interplay between theoretical and empirical narratives of climate change governance, the course consists of three different learning elements; 1) classroom  teaching based on active participation and dialogue; 2) dialogue meetings with practitioners of climate change governance; and 3) students’ own “communication projects” (see section on teaching methods). The course seeks to introduce relevant and tangible experience with climate change governance through dialogue meetings with practitioners and communication projects, where students gain practical experience with communicating climate change governance to a non-academic audience. The course and examination will bring together these three learning elements and ask students to reflect upon climate change governance theoretically, empirically, and practically through own active participation and experience.

Preliminary plan:

1. Introduction to climate change, narrative governance, and the course structure (class-based teaching, dialogue sessions, and communication project).

2. Communication project (field trip)

3. Narrative governance

4. Empirical narratives of climate change governance

- UN climate negotiations

5. Dialogue session (field trip)

6. Communication project (field trip)

7. Theoretical narratives of climate change governance

- Regime theory

- Multilevel governance

- Transnational governance

8. Dialogue session (field trip)

9. Empirical narratives of climate change governance

- Green Growth

10. Course summary

Learning Outcome

[1] Knowledge and understanding of the discipline of political science

This course offers students a thorough understanding of a Narrative Governance – theoretically, empirically, and practically. It further offers students a basic understanding of climate change as a physical phenomenon coupled with a thorough understanding of climate change as a cultural phenomenon embedded in different governance narratives.


[2] Practical competence in employment-related activities in political science

Through practical experience this course offers students competencies in developing, delivering, and evaluating a communication project, where students communicate a complex academic topic (climate change) to a non-academic audience. Students learn to see themselves as climate change governance actors.


[3] Intellectual and transferable skills in political and social sciences

This course helps students develop skills in communication of new knowledge based on own material to a non-academic audience.

It also helps students develop skills in presenting and discussing academic reflections about own dialogue with society.

Preliminary reading list:


Bang, H.P. (2003). Governance as Political Communication. In: Bang H.P. (ed.), Governance as Social and Political Communication. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Pages 6-16.


Bevir, M. (2003). A Decentred Theory of Governance. In: Bang H.P. (ed.), Governance as Social and Political Communication. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Pages 200-211.


Bevir, M. (2005). How Narratives Explain. In: Dvora Yanow, Peregrine Schwartz-Shea, Interpretation And Method: Empirical Research Methods And the Interpretive Turn. M.E. Sharpe.


Bevir, M. (2013). Chapter 4: Narrating the Nation, In: A Theory of Governance. University of California Press: Berkeley, Los Angeles, London. Pages 71-88 + 221-222.


Bevir, M. and R.A.W. Rhodes (2010). The State as Cultural Practice. Oxford University Press.


Blaxekjær, L. (2015). The Emergence and Spread of Green Growth. In: Transscalar Governance of Climate Change: An Engaged Scholarship Approach. Copenhagen: Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen PhD series 2015/8.


Blaxekjær, L. and Nielsen, T.D. (2014). Narrative Positions of New Political Groups under the UNFCCC. Climate Policy. Published online 17 October 2014. 


Bulkeley, H. et al. (2014). Transnational Climate Change Governance. New York: Cambridge University Press. Pages 1-186.


Dryzek and Lo, 2014, Reason and Rhetoric in Climate Communication. Environmental Politics, 24 (1): 1-16.


Entman, 1993, Framing: Towards Clarification of a Fractured Paradigm. Journal of Communication. 43 (4): 51-58.


Hulme, M. (2009), Why We Disagree about Climate Change: Understanding Controversy, Inaction and Opportunity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


IPCC (2014), Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, R.K. Pachauri and L.A. Meyer (eds.)]. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland.


Pralle, S.B., 2009, Agenda-setting and climate change. Environmental Politics 18 (5): 781-799.


Patterson and Monroe, 1998, Narratives in Political Science. Annual Review of Political Science, 1: 315-331.

The course is based on 30 hours of teaching in a combination of three types of approaches:
1) Classroom teaching (18 hours) will introduce different topics, and will be used to reflect upon and discuss the topics in relation to the other activities.
2) Practical learning (communication project) (6 hours) with the specific topics through dissemination of new knowledge gained through e.g. own interviews and observations. E.g. through writing a blog, making videos, posters, public speaking, or a radio programme.
3) Dialogue sessions (6 hours) where teacher and students engage in dialogue with society, e.g. political, business, and civil society actors. Students will help prepare the dialogue.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination under invigilation
Oral synopsis exam
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assesment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner