Katrina S. Rogers
Learning about international environmental politics requires students to comprehend large amount of information across multiple disciplines, while also considering the ramifications of broad issues in international relations as they relate to the environment. As such, teaching global environmental politics poses numerous pedagogical challenges. The concept of “pedagogical content knowledge” provides a most useful framework for teaching global environmental politics because of its dynamism and emphasis on the developmental aspects of learning. There are six steps that create a process for continuous improvement in a cycle of learning from one’s teaching: comprehension, transformation, instruction, evaluation, reflection, and new comprehension. Two surveys conducted concurrently between April and November 2008 were analyzed to reveal patterns that suggest strengths and weaknesses in content and pedagogy. The first analyzed 47 global environmental politics syllabi by 44 instructors teaching at major colleges and universities in the United States. The second was a confidential and anonymous online survey of 114 teachers in the field. The combined results of these two surveys show some inconsistency between what instructors say and what their syllabi show. Ultimately, teachers can improve learning by drawing on four major themes that can be distilled from the framework of pedagogical content knowledge: setting the context; building positive social norms; emphasizing inquiry, discovery, and synthesis; and creating the possibility of transformation. Possible future directions of teaching and learning include the incorporation of distance learning practices, electronic applications, and creative combinations of both with traditional methods.