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POLS330 Special Topic: Politics of Climate Change

Framed by mātauranga Māori, post-colonial political theory, and other critical perspectives, this course examines the politics of climate change and climate change justice.

Climate change is an urgent planetary problem however political responses range from sluggish to obstructive. In this course we examine the key political issues of climate change action by asking such questions as:

  • What does climate change require of politics?
  • What international political structures are there for addressing climate change?
  • Why is national politics generally slow to respond?
  • What are the economics of climate change?
  • What are the sources of resistance?
  • How does political philosophy influence political responses to climate change?
  • What are the key tactics of climate activists?
  • What measures could politicians implement to address greenhouse gas emissions, and/or limit global warming?
  • Is there any connection between colonialism and climate change/climate change inaction?
  • Who are the winners and losers in the climate change debate?

Framed by Mātuaranga Māori and de/anticolonial theory the course examines the politics of climate change and climate change justice.

Paper title Special Topic: Politics of Climate Change
Paper code POLS330
Subject Politics
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $955.05
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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18 200-level POLS points
Schedule C
Arts and Music

Students will require some background in political science and preferably have an understanding of the basic principles of political theory.


Teaching staff

Dr Christine Winter (Ngati Kahugnunu ki Wairoa)

Teaching Arrangements

Two fifty-minute lectures per week and one fifty-minute tutorial.


There is no text book for this course. Readings will come from a variety of text, journal and news sources and sites.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised

Global Perspective, Interdisciplinary Perspective, Lifelong Learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical Thinking, Cultural Understanding, Ethics, Environmental Literacy, Information Literacy, Research, Self-Motivation, Teamwork
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.

Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete the paper will be able to:

  • Demonstrate familiarity with key debates in climate change including climate change justice and colonization/imperialism, and the relevance of these debates for effective climate action.
  • Produce independent research of high quality that integrates the key readings with an analysis of key issues in climate change politics.
  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of the different approaches Indigenous Peoples in general, and Māori in particular, bring to the underlying causal issues of climate change, climate change ethics, and climate change politics.
  • Demonstrate the ability to engage constructively in discussion, debates and scenarios. Climate change and its solutions are (or have become) politically and culturally divisive. Students will be able to identify the sites, discourses, cultural, economic and political forces of division, and be able to discuss these in the spirit of collaborative solutions.

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Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Monday 11:00-11:50 28-34, 36-41
Tuesday 11:00-11:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
T1 Tuesday 13:00-13:50 28-34, 36-41