Skip to main content

KU Leuven: Introduction to Global Governance

Critical introduction to the concept, importance and analysis of global governance. In particular, this course provides an overview of the main actors involved in global governance and how these actors manage current key global challenges.

7 weeks
2–3 hours per week
Progress at your own speed
Optional upgrade available

About this course

Skip About this course

Many of the most pressing challenges we are experiencing today are global. Consider climate change, supply chains, or cybersecurity for example – these challenges, like many others, don’t stop or start at the borders of any particular country.

Dealing with global challenges such as these is often complicated and involves a great number of different actors and approaches – we use the concept of global governance to describe the collective activities taking place to manage these challenges.

While the concept of global governance can be difficult to grasp due to the plurality of actors and processes involved, this MOOC will help you gain a full understanding of this phenomenon as well as see how it works in practice.

Throughout the MOOC, you will uncover the key actors engaged in global governance from national governments and regional organizations like the European Union to private actors such as businesses and citizens.

Along the way, you will also learn how approaches to global governance have shifted in recent years as traditional, international law models have given way to a variety of bottom-up and informal processes.

Then you will see how these concepts and ideas apply in real governance contexts such as the governance of global pandemics, sustainable trade, outer space, and human rights.

Finally, you will also learn how global governance is analyzed and theorized, exploring the distinction between “hard” and “soft” law or the concepts of regime architecture and complexity.

Whether you are interested in understanding or solving global problems as a policymaker, a business entrepreneur, or a citizen – this MOOC will provide the necessary foundation for understanding, analyzing and identifying how global governance shapes the world.

Funded by the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme of the European Union. Grant agreement number 822654.

Course created with support from

Leuven Centre for Global Governance StudiesEuropean Union

At a glance

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • Learn what ‘global governance’ means, and how it tackles global challenges and pursues a global agenda, such as the Sustainable Development Goals
  • Discover the key actors engaged in global governance, including formal and informal intergovernmental international organizations, regional organizations, businesses, citizens and multistakeholder initiatives
  • Become acquainted with various tools and approaches of global governance, including hard and soft law, regulatory standards, and voluntary commitments
  • Understand how global governance is evolving as international organizations face new challenges and informal international lawmaking becomes commonplace
  • Gain insight into how global governance works in practice with a specific focus on global health crises such as Covid-19, sustainable development, space governance and other governance challenges
  • Learn how to analyze and assess global governance through key theoretical concepts such as regime complexity

Module 1: Why do we need Global Governance?

Understand what global governance is, how it tackles key global challenges, how it has evolved over time, and the role of international organizations in global governance.

Module 2: International Organizations

Gain knowledge about what international organizations are and the evolution towards informal international lawmaking. Understand why states engage in informal lawmaking and the reasons behind this shift.

Module 3: Regional Organizations and Regulatory Standards

Understand the role of regional organizations in global governance. In particular, gain in-depth insight into how regional organizations such as the EU can promote the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and how they set and impose regulatory standards more generally.

Module 4: Non-State Actors in Global Governance

Explore the role of different non-state actors in global governance. Notably, understand the roles that businesses, multi-stakeholder initiatives such as voluntary sustainability standards, and citizens have to play in global governance.

Module 5: Global Governance in Action

Gain in-depth knowledge on how global governance structures manage specific regimes such as sustainable trade, space, human rights and health, e.g. the Covid-19 pandemic.

Module 6: Understanding and Analyzing Global Governance

Understand how global governance can be analyzed. Delve into aspects such as the distinction between hard and soft law, the complexity and architecture of governance regimes, and the interactions between actors within the regime.

Module 7: Final exam

Test your newly acquired knowledge on global governance in a final exam, comprising of a quiz and a short essay.

This course is part of Global Sustainability Governance Professional Certificate Program

Learn more 
Expert instruction
3 skill-building courses
Progress at your own speed
6 months
2 - 4 hours per week

Interested in this course for your business or team?

Train your employees in the most in-demand topics, with edX For Business.