Kurt Huebner


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Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Why sovereignty matters: European populist-nationalist parties and the reconstruction of the concept of sovereignty (2017)

In the recent decade or so, the western democracies have seen a rise in the fame and electoral success of populist-nationalist parties and candidates, particularly in Europe. For example, French Presidential Candidate Marine Le Pen made it to the second round of the presidential election in 2017. Often, these parties are extremely concerned about state sovereignty and mention it in electoral campaigns, documents and speeches. However, it is unclear as to what populist-nationalists mean when they use the word ‘sovereignty.’ I seek to answer this question in this work. In other words, what does sovereignty mean to populist-nationalist parties? I argue that sovereignty means something different to populist-nationalist parties than what previously conceived definitions of sovereignty can offer. Furthermore, I argue that populist-nationalist parties are reconstructing why sovereignty matters and what it means. In order to do this, I utilize a concept known as cultural sovereignty which, with some modification, accurately portrays what sovereignty means to populist-nationalists. I define cultural sovereignty, differently than previous conceptions, as the aim to benefit, protect or maintain the culture of a particular group, the nation or nation-state and retain control over this particular culture or nation-state. I accurately demonstrate this by examining previous research, party documents, interviews, statements and journalistic articles in order to discern a common narrative which I then use to prove that my version of cultural sovereignty encapsulates what these parties mean by sovereignty. My conclusions arise from four general policy areas: aversion supra-national governance (Euroscepticism mainly), anti-immigration, cultural promotion and protection policies and lastly economic nationalism. The insights put forth by this work help us understand what these parties mean and help us understand their conceptions of the world as well as governance in general.

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The European Union at Copenhagen : actorness, leadership and the international climate change regime (2011)

The European Union has gained a reputation in recent years as a ʻgreenʼ leader, especially within the UNFCCC. That reputation perhaps amplified the perceived failure that occurred at the 15th Conference of Parties in December 2009 in Copenhagen. Why was Copenhagen such a disappointment? The post-modern character of the European Union—as a polity somewhere between a federal state and a international organization —has often made it difficult for the organization to take on a leadership role, nay operate, within the traditional international relations structure. The reasons for the EUʼs recent difficulty within the climate change regime may reside with two factors. First, an undeveloped sense of ʻactornessʼ on the part of the EU and, second, systemic problems within the regime itself. Here we analyze what happened at the Conference by looking at the development of the EUʼs role and polices within the climate change regime

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Path dependent: Canada and Great Britain's immigration policies 1945 - present (2010)

After the end of the Second World War both Great Britain and Canada’s immigration policies underwent significant reforms. Great Britain’s transition from country of empire and emigration to independent, immigration nation was met with great resistance on the part of both British society and its government. Racially restrictive legislation aimed at limiting the number of New Commonwealth immigrants was introduced, an action that immediately clashed with Britain’s system of inclusive Commonwealth citizenship. Canada on the other hand implemented liberalizing, non-discriminatory reforms that offered all individuals irrespective of race the opportunity to immigrate, as long as they possessed the human capital required to succeed in Canadian society. This thesis uses the concept of path dependence to explain why, despite strong historical and cultural connections, Canada and Great Britain introduced disparate post-war immigration policies. Historical analysis reveals how both countries’ legislation mirrored socially embedded attitudes and norms, and illustrates the difficulty countries face in an effort to break away from historically accepted and propagated systems and conditions. Britain’s policies were influenced by the historical institution of “Empire,” while Canada’s were motivated by its dependence on immigration for economic prosperity and national unity.

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Wind is free: the city of Frederikshavn and the quest for civic sustainability (2010)

As Global Warming becomes an increasing problem, many cities across the world are looking for ways to reduce their harmful emissions and become more sustainable. Some cities are trying to accomplish this by adding park space, constructing more energy-efficient buildings or using electricity to power public transportation. These changes, while facilitating a reduction in emissions, do not allow a city to become sustainable because they are on too small a scale, nor do they account for emissions caused by other aspects of a city. The existing theories on sustainability in cities are insufficient. They cover certain aspects of sustainability, but they do not address the entire city as a whole. They also fail to discuss the most important concept of sustainability, which is sustainable energy. Sustainable energy provides environmentally-friendly, inexpensive energy without the harmful side-effects or exorbitant costs associated with fossil-fuel plants. This paper attempts to prove that a city can only be completely sustainable if it is powered solely by sustainable energy sources. To prove this, a case study of Frederikshavn, Denmark will be provided. By 2015, Frederikshavn will be the first city in the world powered exclusively by sustainable energy. The civic authorities in Frederikshavn are following a top-down approach that ensures that the sustainable energy conversion proceeds successfully, while at the same time being beneficial to both business interests and the local population. If and when Frederikshavn is successful, the techniques used and the lessons learned will be transferable to other cities in the world. This will ensure cities become increasingly sustainable, and Global Warming will be addressed in an appropriate manner.

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News Releases

This list shows a selection of news releases by UBC Media Relations over the last 5 years.

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