Spring 2025

Natural Worlds

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-418


Eleonora Mattiacci (Section 01)


Nature and the natural world have always been front and center in international relations. They have been a curse, an ally, a rival and, at times, collateral damage as nations have competed to control natural resources. This class will explore how nature has shaped interactions between states and individuals across borders, and how it has been shaped by them. The first part of the class will consider nature’s role during peace time and ask when states compete over natural resources. When do states instead cooperate to share resources? In the second part of the class, we will focus on the degree to which disputes over the natural world escalate into wars. When do actors choose to damage the natural environment through scorched earth techniques? How does international law deal with these acts? As a culminating activity, students will be asked to do original research projects and also work in teams. This class will include lectures and a discussion. It is open to majors and non-major and it fulfills requirements 2 and 4 of the IR 5 College Certificate.

Requisite: One or more classes in the social sciences. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Associate Professor Mattiacci.

How to handle overenrollment: Priority to majors.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Attention to research; attention to speaking; attention to writing.

Course Materials


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Spring 2025