Fall 2008

Wednesday 6:30 ~ 9:10 PM

Instructor: Han, Hee-jin



POLS 497 Section 3 The Environmental Politics of China


Course Description


China’s post-Mao economic reform and development has been made at the expense of its environment.  Its environmental problems and their impacts have raised increasing concerns among the country’s policymakers, civil society and NGOs.  The international community has also voiced its worries about China’s environment as a global as well as a regional issue.  This course is designed for those students who want to join the lively discussion on China’s environment and its implications for the country’s sustainable development.  The course will be interesting for those students who study Chinese Politics, East Asian society and politics, and environmental policies. 


Specifically, this course aims to help students form their answers to the following questions: 1. How has China’s economic reform and development affected its environment in the post-Mao period (1978 ~ present)?  2. What efforts has the central government of China made for environmental protection?  How have local governments responded?  3. What are the roles of civil society and NGOs in Chinese environmental politics? 4. How can or should we understand China’s environment in a global perspective? 5. What implications do the answers to 1. through 4. have for the future of environmental “governance” of China?    


By exploring these questions, we will be able to better understand how the relationship between economic growth and environment has evolved in China.  We can also get a deeper grasp on some of the powerful interests and institutional forces that have created or contributed to the environmental problems and shaped the policies to deal with them.


We will meet five or six times throughout the semester, and there will be one session with a video followed by discussion.


Tentative Schedule

Week 1 Overview of China’s Growth and Environment

Week 2 Dynamics of the Central and Local Environmental Politics

Week 3 Environmental NGOs and Civil Society

Week 4 China’s Environment in a Global Perspective   

Week 5 Implications for the Future of Environmental “Governance”   



 Economy, Elizabeth C. 2004. The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China’s Future. Council on Foreign Relations Book.