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Governing a Global World


Admission requirements

This course is part of the minor Global Affairs and is open to Political Science Students as an elective course.
To register for this course you need to be enrolled either in Usis for the minor Global Affairs or as an undergraduate student at the Institute of Political Science at Leiden University. There are 100 places open for students enrolled in the minor and 100 places for undergraduate students of Political science, on a first come first served basis.


This course critically examines how global problems are – and might differently be – governed. Contemporary society is heavily globalised, as seen in matters such as armed conflicts, digital technologies, ecological degradations, economic instabilities, geopolitical shifts, humanitarian crises, identity struggles, inequalities, and pandemics. Governing these global developments – shaping and directing them in positive directions – is one of today’s greatest political challenges. This course introduces students to the measures, institutions, practices, structures and ideologies that currently govern – and might in future differently govern – the globe.

The first week of the course addresses globality: the condition of being connected on a planetary scale. We cover the history and the drivers of globalisation. The second week reviews the challenges that globality poses in contemporary society: for democracy, distributive justice, ecological integrity, identity, liberty, material welfare, peace and solidarity. The third week considers what the state (as the traditional main site of governance) can and cannot achieve in respect of global problems. The fourth week looks at a variety of nonstate loci of governance in business, civil society, media and technical circles: how do they participate in regulating global connections? The fifth week examines how these various state and nonstate actors combine in polycentric networks of governance that raise major issues of effectiveness, fairness and democratic accountability.
The sixth week looks beyond actors to the norms, practices and underlying social structures that bring a deeper order to the polycentric governance networks. The seventh week surveys contending policy frameworks that are available to govern a global world, including neoliberalism, neomercantilism, social markets, social democracy and a range of transformative visions.
We assess the possible promises and pitfalls of each approach, hopefully leaving students more empowered to make their own choices about desirable global futures.

Course objectives

At the end of this course, students will be able to:


● describe the global qualities of contemporary society and its governance ● identify various actors that participate in governing global connections ● recognise norms, practices and social structures that order global affairs


● to appreciate the complex dynamics through which global issues are governed ● to assess the potential promises and pitfalls of various ideological approaches to global policy


● to understand academic writings and lectures about governing a global world ● to participate in probing discussions of global challenges and their governance ● to communicate effectively in writing their understanding of governing a global world


The 2021 schedule will be published as soon as possible. The timetable will be displayed on the university website, Brightspace, and the front page of the minor in Global Affairs.

Mode of instruction

7 lectures of 3 hours.
Participation in lectures, discussions and exercises is required in order to obtain a grade. One lecture may be missed. Being absent more than once without acceptable cause may likely lead to expulsion from the course.

The total study load for this course is 140 hours, consisting of:

● 21 hours for attending lectures ● 119 hours studying the compulsory literature and working on assignments

Assessment method

Short essay ● 25% of total grade ● Re-sit not possible ● Grade must be compensated

Long Essay ● 75% of total grade ● Grade must be 5.50 or higher to pass the course ● Re-sit possible ● Re-sit will take the same form

Students will be permitted to re-sit the long essay if they have a calculated overall course grade lower than 5.50 or with permission of the Board of Examiners. The short essay needs to be compensated.

Details for submitting papers (including deadlines) are posted on Brightspace.

Late hand in penalty: 0,5 minus per day, and after seven days we do not accept papers any longer.

The Course and Examination Regulation Security Studies and the Rules and Regulation of the Board of Examiners of the Institute of Security and Global Affairs apply.

Reading list

The reading list will be added on Brightspace.


Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course.

Leiden University uses Brightspace as its online learning management system. Important information about the course is posted here. After enrolment for the course in uSis, you are also enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course.


Jan Aart Scholte
For administrative matters and enrolment please contact:


All sessions will be in English. Essays need to be written in English.
This course takes place in The Hague.