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Global Transformations and Governance Challenges


This course is earmarked for PTLJ, NECD, IP, and is offered in The Hague


This course explores how major world-scale changes in contemporary society are governed – and could be governed. These global transformations include geopolitical shifts, ecological changes, technological innovations, pandemics, demographic trends, economic restructuring, reconfigured identities, and altered forms of violence and peacebuilding. The course considers who makes the rules to address such transformations, through what processes, and with what consequences. We also assess the legitimacy (both empirical and normative) of current arrangements for governing global transformations, as a basis for thinking about (better?) alternatives for the future.
The first week of the course surveys contemporary global transformations and the governance challenges that these developments pose. The second week reviews the many sites that formulate and implement measures to govern contemporary global transformations, including actors (both public and private) with global, regional, national and local remits. The third week examines how these actors operate in ‘polycentric’ institutional complexes that offer promises as well as problems. The fourth week focuses on practices of governing global transformations, looking more ethnographically at the objects, discourses, behaviours, and other routines within governing processes. The fifth week turns to the deeper structures that order the governance of global transformations, such as hegemonic states, capitalism, and social hierarchies of age, ethnicity/race, gender, and language. The sixth week looks at levels of legitimacy for existing arrangements to govern global transformations as well as the sources of such (il)legitimacy. The seventh week addresses explicitly normative questions of what constitutes ‘just’ governance of global transformations, considering criteria like democracy, effectiveness, fairness, peace and sustainability. The eighth week is devoted to the completion of final essays.

Course Objectives

After completion of the course, students are expected to be able:

  • to identify a full array of governance arrangements that address contemporary global transformations

  • to assess contending theories (explanatory as well as normative) regarding the governance of global transformations

  • to formulate and defend their own explanation of the governance of contemporary global transformations

  • to articulate and justify their own criteria for normative evaluation of governance arrangements for contemporary global transformations

  • to research – both individually and in a group – a particular scenario of governing contemporary global transformations

  • to present a cogent analysis – interweaving both theory and evidence – of the governance of contemporary global transformations

  • to communicate such an analysis effectively both orally and in writing

Mode of Instruction

The course consists of seven lectures, class discussion, and working groups.
Attendance is mandatory. Students are only allowed to miss one session if there are special, demonstrable personal circumstances. The Board of Examiners, in consultation with the study advisors, will decide on such an exceptional exemption of mandatory attendance.
Total study load 140 hours:
21 contact hours
119 self-study hours: reading and other preparation for sessions, preparation of assignments

Assessment method

Class participation: 10% of final grade
Course can be compensated in case of a fail (grade < 5.50), resit not possible.
Group policy memo: 20% of final grade
Course can be compensated in case of a fail (grade < 5.50), resit not possible.
Individual essay: 70% of final grade
Grade cannot be compensated, a 5.50 is required to pass the course
The calculated grade of the assignments must be at least 5.50 in order to pass the course.
If a student passed an assignment, it is not possible to participate in a re-sit in order to obtain a higher grade. Students are only permitted to resit the 70% assignment if they have a calculated overall course lower than 5.50.


See 'Practical Information


See 'MyTimetable'


prof.dr. Jan Aart Scholte