Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POC3095: Environmental Knowledge Controversies

This module descriptor refers to the 2019/0 academic year.

Please note that this module is only delivered on the Penryn Campus.


NQF Level 6
Credits 15 ECTS Value 7.5
Term(s) and duration

This module ran during term 1 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Professor Clare Saunders (Convenor)





Available via distance learning


Environmental issues are a particular kind of policy issue. They are often transboundary, transmutable and difficult to solve. In other words, they are ‘wicked’. In this module we focus on contemporary wicked environmental policy issues and think about ways forward for their governance within the context of a maze of contradictory scientific evidence. We explore social theories about the nature of scientific knowledge and knowing, and the ways in which knowledge is transferred into policy. Given the difficulty of reconciling science and democracy, we also discuss solutions for effectively moving from contradictory scientific positions towards a more consensual policy position and practice. This includes consideration of the role of experts in democracy and critiquing the idea of post-truth politics. These ideas are explored through close interrogation of global, national and local environmental issues such as climate change, pesticides and bees, badger culling and street lighting.

No prior knowledge, skills or experience are required to take this module and it is suitable for specialist and non-specialist students. This course serves as a complement to The Public Policy Process.

Module created


Last revised