Leadership is always difficult, but it is especially hard for those working on environmental protection. Environmental leaders almost always face opponents with vastly more power, and, to overcome this imbalance, they need to be good at organizing, communications, negotiation and advocacy. With the threat of climate change, the world desperately needs public leaders who understand how human well-being depends on the health of the natural world - leaders who have the vision and skills to create a sustainable future.
This course is designed to help students exercise leadership in environmental conflicts - whether in government, NGO or business settings - drawing on the instructor’s 30 years of experience. As president of the Land Trust Alliance, he provided leadership for 1,100 conservation organizations and worked closely with the U.S. Congress to pass environmental legislation that helped double the pace of land conservation in America.
Because leadership skills are best learned through experience, this course will offer a dynamic series of simulations, role plays and small group exercises. We will analyze leadership cases from around the world including a proposed hydropower dam in South America; a campaign to protect tropical rainforests; the battle to pass the Clean Air Act of 1990 and the negotiation of the Paris Climate Agreement.
This course will focus on how leaders advance environmental protection using the following skills:
- Organizing: Environmental leaders are rarely invited to the negotiating table, so they must start by building power. We will study how environmental leaders develop a campaign strategy, identify allies and build coalitions.
- Communications: Environmental leaders create a compelling message, use persuasive speaking, and mobilize both traditional and digital media.
- Negotiation: Environmental leaders have to decide when to fight and when to compromise. We will learn how leaders use a diagnostic process to create value for both sides and negotiate complex multi-party agreements.
- Advocacy: Environmental leaders need the skills to draft legislation, recruit partners, and lobby elected officials.
For students who have taken classes in leadership, organizing, communications or negotiation, this course will offer an opportunity to integrate and apply those skills to environmental conflicts. While there are no prerequisites for the course, students who have not taken a course in negotiation will need to complete additional readings and attend a one hour workshop during the first week of class.