Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 1998

Comparative Environmental Policy:
National and International Dimensions

Main Discipline: Political Science
Lecturers: Professor Helmut Weidner and Professor Arild Underdal
Institutions: Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin and University of Oslo
Dates: 3. - 7. August 1998

The basic question addressed in this course may be formulated as follows: How can we explain variance in the substantive content as well as in overall performance or «effectiveness» of environmental policies? This question will be pursued at three different levels. First, we examine similarities and differences in national policies. One important question will be how policy contents and performance can be understood in terms of the interplay between governmental «supply» and institutional capacity on the one hand and societal «demand» and support on the other.

Attention will be devoted also to the notion of «sustainable development» and its specific implications for deliberation processes, interest mediation, and institutional and societal capacities. Second, the course examines factors influencing the effectiveness and robustness of international environmental regimes. The third part explores the interplay between national policies and international regimes, addressing questions pertaining to the domestic implementation of international environmental accords and to processes of transnational learning and policy diffusion. Throughout the course, some attention will be devoted to methodological problems facing comparative research in this field.

Basic Readings

The lecturers
Arild Underdal is Professor of political science at the University of Oslo, and adjunct senior research associate at the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research (CICERO). He recently edited The International politics of environmental management (1997), and is currently involved in finishing two research reports for publication, one being a comparative study of the effectiveness of 15 international regimes, the other being a study of the domestic implementation of LRTAP protocols in ten European countries (listed above as Hanf and Underdal, eds. 1998).

Helmut Weidner is Senior research fellow at the Research Unit "Standard-Setting and Environment" in the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin. He has an extensive record of research and publi-cations in the area of national environmental policies. His most recent works include the reader National Environmental Policies. A Comparative Study of Capacity-Building (co-editor, with Jänicke M., 1997: a second and extended volume planned for 1998), and a forthcoming reader on Alternative Dispute Resolution in Environmental Conflicts. Experiences in 12 countries.