Allow us to tell you a little bit about the aims and orientation of the University’s of Guelph’s BA Honours Major in Environmental Governance, which was launched in 2008.
Not only is the name of the major novel, but so too is its focus. As exemplified by the case of global warming, it is increasingly recognized that solving many of the world’s persistent environmental problems requires more than just enhanced scientific knowledge and improved technology; the solutions necessarily involve new ways of governing.
The term governance refers to the processes and actions through which societies and organizations operate. In Western societies, the necessary tasks of governance have traditionally been undertaken by the state – that is, by governments - using institutions such as regulatory agencies and laws. While governments have long dominated environmental management, their ability to address society’s emerging environmental expectations has been increasingly called into question. As a result, non-state actors, including citizens, non-governmental organizations, and for-profit businesses, are increasingly playing key roles in environmental management, often with the explicit approval of governments. Hence, environmental governance refers to the processes and actions through which state and non-state actors, on their own or working together, work to affect positive environmental change.
Our goal in this program is to not only understand these new players and processes, but also to contribute to enlightened governance; that is, to seek to address some of the world’s greatest environmental challenges. This two-part goal necessarily requires a multi-disciplinary approach; indeed, the Environmental Governance program owes its existence to the collaborative efforts of the Departments of Geography and Political Science, and the courses that comprise it derive not only from these two departments but also economics, resource economics, and others. Given this structure, you will find it easy to pick up a Minor in one of these traditional disciplines to complement your major.
We are excited about the opportunities that this new program offers both for your time here at the University of Guelph and beyond. We hope you will join us for the excursion. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
p.s. for those seeking a better understanding of the phenomenon of environmental governance, we suggest you read Agrawal and Lemos (2007)