Institute of the Weltethos Foundation
at the University of Tübingen

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Redesigning Democracy for Climate Change? Strategies of Democracy Policy

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LecturerDr. Christopher Gohl
Type of courseWeekly Seminar, Master’s Seminar
Semester hours per week2
Date/ TimeTuesdays, 4.00-6.00 pm c.t.
Start: April 16th, 2024
Location        Weltethos-Institut, Hintere Grabenstraße 26, 72070 Tübingen
PrerequisitesPrevious knowledge of economics, interest in social and organizational psychology
Bachelors Degree
Proof of performance/ form of examination 
Active participation, presentation, term paper 

RegistrationRegistration by email – stating name, matriculation number, subject and semester number, address, place and date of birth at
Registration Deadline2024, April 10th
Maximum number of participants20


  • WBGU (2011). World in Transition – A Social Contract for Sustainability. WBGU: Flagship Report 2011.
  • Boston, J. (2016). Governing for the Future: Designing Democratic Institutions for a Better Tomorrow. Emerald Group Publishing.
  • Smith, Graham. 2021. Can Democracy Safeguard the Future? Medford, MA: Polity Press.
  • Brechin, S. R., & Lee, S. (2023). Will Democracy Survive Climate Change?. In Sociological Forum.


Climate change presents a unique challenge to liberal democracies. Impacts of climate change threaten the future way of peaceful life in pluralistic democracies. Yet, governments that enact stringent policies in line with the ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement often encounter a strong backlash. Failure to implement effective climate measures, on the other hand, threatens to erode the legitimacy of democracies and potentially lead to their decline. To navigate this predicament, experts have long proposed measures of institutional redesign and democratic empowerment, enhancing the capacity for resilient and responsible democratic action in the face of climate change.

This seminar invites an open inquiry into strategies of updating liberal democracies to meet the challenges of climate change. It bridges two critical discourses: the interdisciplinary study of the political dimension of sustainable development, and the nascent field of “democracy policy“ which seeks to revitalize institutions, processes, and public cultures of democratic polities. We aim to examine how democratic systems can not only reform existing structures but also galvanize the collective efforts of all stakeholders to implement effective climate policies from the local to the global level. Together, we will amalgamate diverse perspectives, ideas, and recommendations into a comprehensive White Paper tentatively titled “Democracy Policy for Climate Change,” targeted at informing and guiding political decision-makers.