IGA 455 -2 Environmental Politics: Building Power Through Leadership, Persuasion and Negotiation





Radolph Wentworth
Mondays/Wednesdays, 12:30 PM - 1:45 PM


In this perilous moment in human history, the world desperately needs leaders with the courage, drive and hardball political skills to fight climate change and help restore the natural world. At the same time, we need leaders who will advocate for social equity, recognizing how marginalized and low-income communities suffer disproportionately from pollution and climate change.Leadership is difficult in any enterprise, but it is especially difficult for environmental leaders who face opponents with vastly more power and money. In this course, students will learn three core skills to overcome power asymmetries:

  • Persuasion: Use stories and persuasive speaking to inspire action. Build public support through print and digital media. Interpret scientific findings to a skeptical public.
  • Advocacy: Build winning coalitions, mobilize activists, and lobby elected officials. Drive change through legislation, regulation and private markets.
  • Negotiation: Understand the target point, reservation point, zone of possible agreement, BATNA, interests vs. positions, and the role of trust and relationships in negotiating complex, multi-party agreements.

Students will develop these skills through negotiation simulations, role plays and case studies - all grounded in academic research, real-world lessons from global environmental leaders, and the instructor’s 30 years of on the ground environmental leadership. The course will explore the perspectives of government officials, NGO activists, business leaders and indigenous people in environmental conflicts.

The simulations will include the protection of tropical rainforests in Indonesia, the fight for sacred indigenous lands in South America, and the battle over a toxic waste incinerator in an African American community in the United States. We will also draw lessons from the negotiation of an Energy Bill, the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Power Plan, the Paris Climate Agreement and the Green New Deal which weds environmental protection and social equity into a new source of political power.