This executive training provides a comprehensive and practical discussion of standard setting in a rapidly changing global regulatory environment. With a focus on transnational trade and production, participants learn about the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) rules on product standards, and the work of private standard setting bodies such as the International Standardization Organization (ISO). The trainers then focus on the highly dynamic field of voluntary sustainability standards (VSS). Prominent examples are the Forest Stewardship Council, Fairtrade International, and the Rainforest Alliance. These voluntary initiatives set standards for sustainable production and often operate certification programs to verify compliance in global value chains. Initiated by NGOs, firms, and multi-stakeholder initiatives, the stated goal of VSS is to create win-win situations by reconciling environmental, social, and economic policy objectives. However, the potential of VSS to deliver on these objectives remains uncertain and contested. Particularly, the effectiveness of VSS and their impact on trade and development remains subject to much debate and controversy.
This course introduces students to this diverse and dynamic field of study. Its main objectives are threefold. First, students will learn about the history and theory of transnational relations. We will discuss the intellectual development of the field and consider different explanations of the rise and institutionalization of transnational governance. In addition, we will discuss how the shift from government to governance challenges our thinking about fundamental political concepts, such as legitimacy, power, and effectiveness. Second, the course introduces students to key actors and issues in transnational governance – in particular, but not exclusively, its private variety. Topics covered during the course include: the governance of sustainability in global supply chains, the provision of health services in areas of limited statehood, the effectiveness of human rights advocacy, and transnational security governance. Throughout the course guest speakers from academia and practice will join and enrich our discussions. A third objective of the course is to train students’ writing and debating skills through several hands-on assignments, including a guided speech-writing exercise and a group debate.
This course is designed for students with an interest in transnational sustainability governance broadly defined. With a focus on (state and non-state) institutions, its main objective is to instruct students to develop and carry out their own research projects. Institutions of relevance to this course include: International environmental regimes (e.g., the global climate regime, the SDGs), Corporate Social Responsibility (e.g., Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan), multi-stakeholder governance (e.g., Forest Stewardship Council, Fairtrade Labelling Organization), environmental NGOs (Greenpeace, WWF), transnational city networks (e.g., C40 cities), and public-private partnerships (e.g., Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership). In the first part of the course, students will learn about key concepts and perspectives to think about and analyze institutions of environmental governance. Possible research themes include the effectiveness, legitimacy, power dynamics, and increasing complexity of transnational governance. The second part of the course focuses on issues of research design. Step-by-step students will develop their research proposals in preparation of the empirical analysis and the writing-up of their dissertations. In the final part of the course, students will work individually on their projects. In this phase, structured feedback is provided during presentations at workshops and during individual meetings with the course instructor.