The Politics of the Global Environment

The Statecraft simulation familiarizes students with the special challenges of global environmental politics by confronting them with a potentially lethal environmental threat that is nonetheless ambiguous in terms of its timing and severity.  The continent-sized Ice Mountain in the north of the Statecraft World is melting, and could cause catastrophic flooding, destroying all of the structures and resources that the world’s countries have worked hard to produce.  In the early turns of the simulation, scientific reports grow more worrisome but the imminence of the threat is still unclear and the solution (construction of an extremely expensive cooling project, the Globe of Frost) is of uncertain reliability.  Normally students will not take any action to deal with this threat until flooding begins to cost them resources.  Through this experience students will experience the collective action problem, will observe (at least some) free riding, and will see how situations involving public goods are especially prone to these problems.  They will also discover how politicians’ short time horizons and tendency to discount the future promote inaction on problems that require immediate costs in exchange for future benefits that are difficult to quantify.  On a weekly basis students will also be forced to deal with competing domestic factions—the capitalists and the environmentalists—who demand greater industrial development and environmental protection, respectively.  They will discover the difficult tradeoffs between industrial development (mining, factories, oil production, etc.) and environmental sustainability, and will find that environmental problems do not stay confined to one country but bleed across borders and harm other countries’ environmental ratings, requiring a transnational response to this transnational threat.

The Politics of Global Environment

International Political Economy

Foreign Policy

International Organization, International Law & Human Rights

Theoretical Perspectives & Level of Analysis

International Security