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Conflicts about Climate and Environment in Europe


Admission requirements

Registration for the Minor European Union Studies or admission to the pre-master European Union Studies.


Conflicts about how to mitigate climate change and maintain biodiversity are growing more fierce. There is an increasing awareness that climate change is a ‘super wicked problem’: not only do most accepted solutions require time to implement, have uncertain effects and cause conflicts over who should shoulder the costs, but we are also running out of time. Nonetheless, in the aftermath of the pandemic, with war in the Ukraine and an episode of intense inflation, many voters have lately backed populist movements that vocally resist further action on climate change mitigation and environmental protection. The farmer protests that have taken place in the Netherlands and throughout Europe are one expression of a growing backlash against green policies in Europe.

Understanding where this backlash comes from and how to reach productive solutions to deep seated conflicts is therefore a great imperative not only to climate activists, but also those to who care about social cohesion or the viability of a moderate political center.

In this course, we therefore take stock of laws protecting climate and bio-diversity in the European Union, investigate where conflicts about their implementation have originated, and how social movements on both sides of the conflict (e.g., climate activists and farmers) have mobilised to achieve their goals. Students will engage in research on what tactics these movements have adopted, how media and public opionion have responded and to what degree public authorities have adapted policies to movemement demands. Our work will result in a report outlining the problem, the actions taken, and ways to move forward.

Course objectives

Upon successful completion of the course, participants can

  • describe the super wicked problems regarding climate change mitigation and bio-diversity protection

  • name and interpret the laws of the European Union protecting climate and biodiversity

  • describe concrete (and local) conflicts that have resulted from their implementation

  • explain the actions of social movements in these conflicts

  • explain the responses of the media, public opinion and public authorities to these actions

  • assess the possibility to reach solutions that mitigate (further) societal polarisation

  • jointly formulate and present proposals to achieve such solutions


The timetables are available through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


The achievement of the learning objectives will be assessed in the following way:

  • Students actively engage with the course reading

  • Students produce a report on specific conflicts, in groups but with clearly defined individual contributions (1000 words or equvialent per student)

  • Students present this report

  • Students develop their contribution to the joint report in an individual research paper (3000 words)


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average of the components:

  • engagement with course reading: 10%

  • contribution to joint report: 30%

  • presentation of the report: 20%

  • individual research paper: 40%

To pass the course, the weighted average of the partial grades must be 5.5 or higher.


Any course participant who did not pass the course is eligible for a resit.

There are two options for the resit:

  • If the weighted average of the partial grades was at least 5.0, the resit can consist of a substantial revision of the individual research paper

  • In all other cases, the resit consists of a new individual 4000 word report on an environmental conflict

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

A reading list will be announced before the start of the course.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.
General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga