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The Politics of International Freshwater Resources  

Thomas Bernauer and Anna Kalbhenn

Freshwater is one of the most valuable natural resources on Earth. However, many of the more easily accessible freshwater resources at local and regional levels have suffered from overexploitation due to increasing population density, economic activity, and unsustainable water management practices. Sustainable management of domestic water resources is a challenging task mainly due to water allocation, pollution, and other problems on international rivers. Social science research has contributed in a variety of ways to identifying sources of international conflict and cooperation, water management options, and institutional solutions for achieving sustainable international water management. The scholarly literature has tackled a wide range of crucial questions arising from the politics of international freshwater resources, such as: whether there is sufficient evidence for the “water wars” claim—that is, whether water-related factors influence the probability of armed conflict; the determinants of international river basin cooperation, in terms of policy output and policy outcome or impact; how we can determine whether international water management efforts are successful in terms of solving problems that motivate cooperation; and the extent to which the literature offer insights into institutional design options that are effective in terms of problem solving. These studies have produced a considerable amount of policy-relevant analytical concepts and empirical findings. For example, fairness (equity) is one of the key concerns of all governments when they engage in international water cooperation, and integrated water resources management may look nice on paper but does usually not produce the desired results.

Article

Teaching Global Development Studies  

Michael Kuchinsky

Several resources are available for teaching global development. Textbooks, for instance, often follow models reminiscent of comparative politics textbooks. In them, space is accorded to the general history of development and the self-determination movements following World War II, a discussion of different theoretical perspectives on development, followed by country case studies or sectoral issues. Other textbooks may choose more regional approaches to analyze development, critical of state-based development theory and practices and who see regional development models as correctives of bilateral and multilateral initiatives. Still others use cross-cutting themes of global development and political economy as their intellectual “infrastructure”, augmented by historical and cultural research across global regions, with concerns about gender, household level development, and non-state actors as stakeholders. Other resources include resources include numerous professional and academic journals devoted to development and development studies, including the Journal of International Development, the Third World Quarterly, and Development and Change. Among nonacademic resources are nongovernmental organizations, international and multilateral organizations, and policy “think tanks” that produce development programming, data, and analysis. Interactive methods, media, and educational resources are also recommended for teaching of global development. Teaching with interactive methods promotes more student directed learning, assists in developing critical thinking, encourages communication and analysis skills, helps to personalize abstract material, and bridges gaps between theoretical material and real circumstances.

Article

The Geography of Resource Wars  

Philippe Le Billon

“Resource wars” refer to the linkages between armed conflict and access to natural resources.Geographically, these wars are frequently represented through world maps of “strategic resources,” combining the physical scarcity and non-substitutability of resources with their uneven spatial distribution and relative geopolitical location to pinpoint “hot-spots.” Yet perspectives on the links between war and resources are much broader than the continuation of resource policies through the use of military force. Similarly, the geographical dimensions of, and geographical perspectives on, these links are more diverse than maps of “strategic” materials. Classical geopolitical perspectives have most frequently linked the concept of resource war to interstate conflicts over the supply of strategic resources, giving way to a narrow and militaristic notion of “resource security.” To explain potential relations between resources and wars, political economy perspectives have articulated three main arguments about resources: an institutional weakening effect increasing vulnerability to conflict, a motivational effect increasing the risk of armed conflict, and an opportunity effect associated with resources financing belligerents. The other set of perspectives originates from political science and development economics studies, and is based on the assumption that the significance of resources in wars is largely rooted in questions of resource scarcity, abundance, or dependence.

Article

Natural Resource Governance in Africa  

J. Andrew Grant, Evelyn N. Mayanja, Shingirai Taodzera, and Dawit Tesfamichael

Although Africa is home to an abundant and wide variety of natural resources, both land-based and offshore, the governance of such resources has faced myriad challenges. Mineral and hydrocarbon (oil and gas) resources have often led to the vexing “resource curse” whereby weak institutions, corruption, asymmetrical power structures from local to global levels, and lack of economic diversification result in meager development outcomes and can generate episodes of violent conflict. This has resulted in numerous pledges to improve governance and management of natural resources at all stages of the supply chains, ranging from exploration to extraction to environmental remediation. In turn, global and regional governance initiatives have sought to put these pledges and their constitutive norms into practice in conjunction with varying levels of participation by governments, industry, civil society, and local communities.

Article

Public Goods in International Politics  

Brian Urlacher

Public goods represent a particular challenge in international politics that has been linked to problems as diverse as alliance politics, environmental governance, and global currency systems. In many situations, some form of coordinated collective action is needed to produce public goods. Consequently, provision of public good often serves as a stand-in for theoretical questions related to cooperation in an anarchic system. Public goods, which have elements of non-rivalness and non-excludability, are often desired by states but can be difficult to produce in the absence of a powerful state willing to provide public goods unilaterally. Non-rivalness refers to the ability of many actors to consume a good. Closely related to the concept of non-rivalness in public goods is the concept of jointness of supply. Jointness of supply means that all parties can enjoy the benefits of consumption with no additional cost required to provide the good to additional individuals. By contrast, non-excludability implies that once a good has been produced, there are no efficient means of preventing consumption of a good. If both of these conditions are true, then a public good, such as asteroid defense or the elimination of smallpox, could be a benefit to all of humanity once produced. On the other hand, pure public goods are relatively rare. There are variations in which non-rivalness or non-excludability is imperfectly met. Club goods, such as security in alliances, offer viable mechanisms for excluding states from the benefits of a good but may produce goods that are non-rival within the club. Common-pool resources, such as ocean fish populations, are non-excludable but are rival, in that overfishing can reduce fish populations.

Article

Using Facebook as an Educational Resource in the Classroom  

Carolyn M. Shaw

Facebook is a social networking site created in 2004 which has since obtained over a billion users, and it has the potential to facilitate learning in the classroom. With the widespread use of Facebook in society, it simply makes sense to look into ways it might be used in higher education. In fact, a number of studies have been done by scholars in different disciplines regarding the use of Facebook (in general and in academia). These include studies by scholars in library science, education, media and communication, psychology, management information systems, business, political science, marketing, instructional technology, and commerce and accounting. Students come to school wired and are willing and eager to use technology, but higher education has a well-established trend toward non-adoption of new technologies. A variety of studies on the use of Facebook, however, indicate that there are a wide number of potential benefits to using Facebook as an educational tool. There are four inter-related potential benefits: creating a sense of community and promoting collaboration, enhancing communication between instructors and students, developing computer literacy and language skills, and incorporating current student culture into the learning environment. In addition, Facebook is particularly well suited for sharing and discussion of current events in the news.

Article

Nationalism as a Social Movement  

James Goodman

Since the late eighteenth century, nationalist movements have been one of the world’s most powerful agents of social change. As a social movement, nationalism serves as a primary instrument both for popular aspiration and for ruling ideology. It is embedded in political contexts and can only be explained in relation to the resulting dynamics of contention. There is considerable debate over types of nationalist movements and their role in history, in large part because nationalism is not often explicitly conceptualized as a social movement. These debates, especially those that played out through the 1980s and into the mid-1990s, offer important insights into nationalist mobilization and its conditions of emergence and development. In order to understand the dynamics of nationalism as a social movement, one may draw insights from the “political process” school of social movement scholarship, where the exercise of state power is seen as framing movement identification and as structuring mobilization. Three interrelated dimensions deserve consideration in this regard: material interests and resources, institutional opportunities, and ideological framing of nationalist mobilization. Each is linked to the other by a process of capitalist development that creates systemic inequalities and fragments global society into national units. What emerges is a political sociology of nationalist movements, where movements are embedded in the social forces that they inhabit. The interaction of social forces and nationalist mobilization can be conceived of as a hierarchy, where one leads to the other.

Article

The Political Economy of Violent Conflict Within States  

Achim Wennmann

The political economy of violent conflict is a body of literature that investigates how economic issues and interests shape the dynamics associated to violent conflict after the Cold War. The literature covers an area of research focusing on civil wars—the predominant type of conflict in the 1990s and early 2000s—and an area of research focusing on other types of violent conflict within states, such as permanent emergencies, criminal violence, and political violence associated to turbulent transitions. The first area involves four themes that have come to characterize discussions on the political economy of civil wars, including research on the role of greed and grievance in conflict onset, on economic interests in civil wars, on the nature of conflict economies, and on conflict financing. The second area responds to the evolution of violent conflict beyond the categories of “interstate” or “civil” war and shows how political economy research adapted to new types of violent conflict within states as it moved beyond the “post-Cold War” era. Overall, the literature on the political economy of violence conflict emphasizes the role of informal systems behind power, profits and violence, and the economic interests and functions of violence underlying to violent conflict. It has also become a conceptual laboratory for scholars who after years of field research tried to make sense of the realities of authoritarian, violent or war-affected countries. By extending the boundaries of the literature beyond the study of civil wars after the Cold War, political economy research can serve as an important analytical lens to better understand the constantly evolving nature of violent conflict and to inform sober judgment on the possible policy responses to them.