The course aims at enhancing the students’ knowledge and understanding of the roots and evolution of global environmental governance, as well as at providing them with the methodological tools to analyze them from an historical and political perspective. At the same time, the course investigates the role of the European Union in shaping global environmental governance and the implications of the international discourse on sustainable development in European politics, from the late 1960s to the present. Moving from the beginnings of the EC/EU environmental policy, the course deals with the evolving concepts of energy security and transition in Europe’s debates, at the national, intergovernmental and supranational level; it analyses the rise of the European sustainability agenda, across different EC/EU policy areas; and focuses on the intersection between the United Nations’ multilateral dimension of environmental governance and the EU’s. Students will be engaged in studying the complexity of such challenges as climate change and the depletion of global commons with a view to their international politics consequences. They will also be provided with the analytical tools to understanding the development of multilateral and regional institutions, as well as governmental and non-governmental actors; and to assessing the EU’s political and economic response to such challenges in the last few decades.
teacher profile | teaching materials


The course is structured in 4 parts (9 CFU):

1) An overview of the European Union’s history, politics and institutional developments: from the European Community of the 1970s to the EU of the 2000s.

2) Environmental challenges and politics in an international history perspective, from the Stockholm Conference of 1972 to the Paris Agreement of 2015: conservation; global threats; multilateral negotiations; and the rise of climate change in international politics.

3) The roots and development of the EU environmental policy within the context of its energy policy, external relations and foreign policy.

4) Students’ short papers and presentations (see list of recommended readings/bibliography).

Core Documentation

1. Afionis Stavros, The European Union in International Climate Change Negotiations, London, Routledge, 2017;
2. Jordan Andrew, Gravey Viviane(eds), Environmental policy in the EU: actors, institutions and processes, (fourth edition), London, Routledge, 2021, pp. 1-276;
3. Kaiser Wolfram, Meyer Jan-Henrik (eds), International Organizations and Environmental Protection. Conservation and Globalization in the Twentieth Century, New York, Berghahn Books, 2016, pp. 1-102; 153-267; 293-333.

Reference Bibliography

Recommended readings (also for short essay and presentation) 1. Caradonna Jeremy L. (ed.), Routledge Handbook of the History of Sustainability, Abingdon, Oxon, Routledge, 2018 2. Falkner Robert (ed.), The handbook of global climate and environment policy, Chichester, Wiley-Blackwell, 2013 3. Harris Paul G. (ed.), The Politics of Climate Change: Environmental Dynamics in International Affairs, Abingdon, Routledge, 2012 4. Harris Paul G. (ed), Routledge Handbook of Global Environmental Politics, London, Routledge, 2014 5. Hoerber Thomas C., The origins of energy and environmental policy in Europe: the beginnings of a European environmental conscience, London, Routledge, 2013 6. Macekura Stephen, Of Limits and Growth: The Rise of Global Sustainable Development in the Twentieth Century, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2015 7. McNeill, John Robert, Roe Alan (eds), Global environmental history: an introductory reader, London, Routledge, 2013 8. McNeill, John Robert, Unger Corinna R. (eds), Environmental histories of the Cold War, German Historical Institute (Washington D.C.), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2010 9. Redclift Michael, Springett Delyse (eds), Routledge International Handbook of Sustainable Development, London, Routledge, 2015 10. Wurzel Rüdiger, Connelly James (eds), The European Union as a Leader in International Climate Change Politics, London, Routledge, 2011

Type of delivery of the course

Teaching methodology. The course is based on both lectures and class discussion. Students are required to take active part in class debates on single course topics on a weekly basis. They can be assigned short extra readings (articles, archival records, press sources, etc.) to be commented in class, individually or working in group with other students. At the end of the course, students are required to write a short paper and prepare a class presentation on one of the course topics, to be chosen together with the professor. Students' short essays and presentations will be written based on recommended readings.


Attendance is not mandatory. However, it is highly recommended due to the interactive teaching method, including class discussion and the students' team-work and active participation. Attendance, instead, is mandatory for students enrolled in International Studies.

Type of evaluation

The oral exam counts for 50% of the overall grade. Short essay and presentation count for another 50% of the overall grade.