This course is available on the BA and MA in International Relations. It is also available with permission to students on other programmes where regulations permit.
Course content
In the 21st century, humans exert massive influence on the earth, shaping a system of enormous complexity, dispersed agency, and the unknown rules of change and balance. Pandemics, famines, migration, and wars all result from these interactions among humans, their institutions, and nature. The concept of Anthropocene, also known as the Gaia Theory, summarizes contemporary anxieties about climate crisis; global pollution; droughts and famines in the global South; heat waves and melting of permafrost in the global North; oil curse and climate denialism; and other global, regional and (sometimes) national issues. One of the novelties of this course is claiming that Covid-19, and other pandemics, have also been parts of the Anthropocene. We will survey our capacity to create solutions solutions to the problems we face, from geoengineering to vaccinations to reducing consumption to “doughnut urbanism”. Moreover, we will discuss new ideas about the relations between decarbonization and digitalization in hope that the new digital means of the public sphere, education, entertainment and remote work, could give us new solutions for the issues of the Anthropocene. The new public sphere as a self-regulating mechanism of Gaia is another novelty of the course.
The Anthropocene is a broad, modern, and relevant context for International Relations. Responding to the crisis, all our decisions are political, and modern politics should be explored within the combined system of Gaia. This gives a new contextualization for the classical theories of IR. The course argues that a new paradigm of Climatism should complement the old debates between the Realism and Idealism in IR. Along with these theoretical issues, we will focus on the European and global plans of decarbonization, and explore their impacts on IR. How to estimate these projects from the IR perspective? Could we add value to the debate, providing an expertise, forecast, or advice that other disciplines cannot give?
Academic, political, and popular debates on the Anthropocene have exploded in recent years. This gives us rich material for readings, presentations, and discussions in the class. Students are expected to engage with a variety of resources including online publications, book chapters, blogs, and visual media. Reviewing the emergent interdisciplinary literature which spans the social and natural sciences, we focus on the IR implications of these insights. What are the relations between two major crises of our time, the climate and the political? Why the global governance has developed relatively efficient ways of dealing with the Covid, but is failing in its responses to the emissions and pollution? There is a spatial connection between the oil curse and authoritarianism – is there a temporal connection between the climate crisis and militarism? How does Gaia respond to the modern war?
12 weeks of classes, two sessions a week. There is an assortment of readings for each session, with the requirement to choose and read at least two sources per session. In each class, the professor gives a short introduction to the issue and a review of the readings, followed by a couple of students’ presentations of the selected readings, and a general debate on the issue.