When states are faced with problems they cannot solve alone, they create international institutions and organisations, global as well as regional and for general as well as for specific purposes. For many decades, international public authority is on the rise. Increasingly, private actors and civil society organisations are involved in this emerging and rapidly evolving structure of global governance. This development marks a seminal change in international politics. While the often unsuccessful prevention of violent interstate war dominated much of the political agenda in the last century, the provision of public goods and of effective and legitimate governance beyond the state (`global governance') is becoming increasingly important.
This emerging structure of global governance is not necessarily good or without problems. It is also not necessarily global in a territorial sense. While global governance may help solving public problems that would otherwise remain unsolved, it may also be an instrument of dominant powers or possess structural weaknesses such as a deficient democratic accountability. With the increased authority of international institutions, criticism and resistance also increases.
The course gives students a conceptual and thematic overview on global governance, focusing on conceptual lenses to make sense of it, its structure and possible alternative or supplementary trajectories. The guiding theme is ‘the contested rise of international authority'. As this is a Masters level course and not another undergraduate introduction to international relations, there will be no introduction to specific organisations or policy fields. Instead, the course is about analytical concepts and broad trends that should be helpful to understand the trajectory and problems of global governance from a political science perspective (with a bit of international law). It focuses on topics that students should know (if only as a background) but may never again deal with explicitly during their studies.