(3 Credits)

Courses in this area examine the relationships among sustainability science, policy and management. Students learn about the socio-political and economic contexts in which sustainability science is practiced and the opportunities and obstacles for integrating scientific knowledge in decision-making.

SUSC PS5270 Managing Diverging Stakeholder Interests in Response to Climate Change

Instructor: Dr. Robert Newton


This course will explore ways in which a changing climate drives divergent, often conflicting, responses from different segments of society: distinct economic classes, industries, communities, countries, etc. This course takes a case study approach, looking at how specific socio-economic impacts of global warming are changing alignments and/or deepening stakeholder entrenchment. It has become common to say that “society lacks political will” to implement effective climate policy; but a closer look indicates that it might be more accurate to say that strong, but conflicting, interests delay action. Further, when the costs of climate change and other environmental risks accrue to one social group while the benefits of new opportunities to another, regulatory policy can be badly distorted. To address this set of problems students will start with science-based projections of change in the Arctic and North America, and will look at how different stakeholders have already responded to change.

The course will include a segment on modeling stakeholder conflict. Several types of models will be described and students will have access to a version of the Human and Nature Dynamics (HANDY) model that has been modified to include delays in policy implementation. The HANDY model runs quickly enough to try out scenarios in class to test possible impacts of conflict and delay on environmental sustainability.