A collage of pictures from the Spring School 2017 conference on Governing Climate Change in a conference room.

By Pia Buschmann (Muenster University’s Political Science Institute)

A training school for early career scholars entitled Governing climate change: Polycentricity in action? organised by INOGOV took place at the Open University in Heerlen, the Netherlands, from 28 – 31 March 2017. The School, organised by Dr. Angela Oels, Prof. Dave Huitema and others, asked why a progressively complex, poly-centred regime pattern is emerging. Moreover, it explored to what extent polycentricity can contribute effectively to climate change mitigation and adaptation. The Spring School offered a diversity of theoretical and methodological approaches to address these questions.

On the first two days, participants listened to keynote lectures on the core features of polycentric climate governance. The role of power and knowledge was explored and the accountability and legitimacy of governance innovations was problematized. Finally, an important topic discussed was the evaluation of the effectiveness of polycentric climate governance. In-depth discussions that led to fruitful and critical reflections followed the lectures.

For the rest of the week most of the work was conducted in small groups of 5-7 students led by a senior scholar. Groups were formed in advance based on students’ shared interests.  The small groups covered evaluation on the second day and methodologies for studying governance innovations on the third day. The taught methodologies included qualitative methods, statistics and comparative methods, discourse, meta-analysis and case study methods.

On the afternoon of Day 3, participants were invited to share their own competencies and experiences with each other. An afternoon programme designed with Open Space Technology made it possible for participants to announce their own workshops and meeting spaces and to identify others with shared interests. Popular Open Space topics included publication strategies and work-life-balance. On the final day of the Spring School, all participants gave a presentation on a paper they had submitted prior to the School and received detailed feedback. In addition to content-related feedback, the paper presentations provided also a welcome opportunity to practice oral presentation skills in a friendly learning environment.

There was also sufficient time to engage in conversations with peers and senior lecturers over meal times and in breaks. One dinner fostered a seating arrangement that made sure junior and senior scholars were sitting next to each other. Those who participated learned a lot about cutting-edge research and thought processes related to polycentricity and climate governance. Moreover, they also got in touch with inspiring peers and advanced scholars in their field. Participants created a WhatsApp group and have stayed in touch.

The next INOGOV Spring School is in March 2018, again in Heerlen and organised by the same team. The Call for Abstracts will come out in September 2017.

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