Faculty of Chemistry and Earth SciencesGovernance of Risk and Resources (Santiago de Chile)

Students enrolled in ‘Governance of risk and resources’ consider the (political, social and economical) controllability of various interactions between humans and the environment from a problem-centred and application-oriented perspective.

The term governance refers to the manifold processes of coordinated collective action in a society shaped by interdependencies. It has a generally positive connotation as it refers to modern, voluntary-participative forms of governing and regulating for the public benefit. Thanks to the targeted view of risks and resources, scientists and students are confronted with complex issues of humans and the environment at various but interconnected geographical benchmark levels. The roots of the problems can be found in regional contexts but may have an effect in other locations or even globally. Nation states are increasingly reaching their control limits in terms of tackling problems related to humans and the environment, which is why new, coordinated, multiscalar governance solutions are becoming necessary.

Special Features and Characteristics

The Master’s degree programme ‘Governance of risk and resources’, taught at the Heidelberg Centre for Latin America (Heidelberg Center für Lateinamerika, HCLA) in Santiago de Chile is a fee-based academic programme for continuing education. The degree programme is a cooperation project between Heidelberg University’s Institute of Geography, the Universidad Catolica de Chile and Universidad de Chile. All three partners contribute their own, perfectly compatible educational cultures and skills to the Master’s programme. 

The students who enrol in the Master’s programme have a variety of professional perspectives and backgrounds: Geography, law and engineering (agricultural, forestry and water engineers) are represented as well as political and social sciences, and business and economics. Another defining characteristic of the academic programme is the diversity of cultural perspectives. The students who learn together in Santiago gained their professional experiences in Chile, Germany, Colombia, Brazil, Peru or Ecuador. This diversity of cultural perspectives naturally enriches the numerous group assignments in which students analyse and design concrete, case-based governance processes.


Controllability (or governance) of risks and resources is the main research interest. Here, governance refers to the control and regulation systems of political systems as well as in markets, organisations or networks. The relevance of the interdisciplinary perspectives of governance can be illustrated with the example of problems associated with new dimensions of natural hazards. Climate change is, for example, exerting a strong pressure for change on the economic use of water. Countries such as Chile believe a progressive market for water rights to be a governance solution to effectively and efficiently counteract overuse of resources or water pollution. Nonetheless – or perhaps exactly for this reason? – conflicts resulting from water rights are wide-spread throughout the Latin American nation. In turn, they generate (new) risks such as rural exodus or social unrest. The example of water use shows that natural hazards coupled with man-made risks can lead to social catastrophes.

Occupational Areas

The objective of the academic programme ‘Governance of risk and resources’ is to qualify students for a research-related professional career in the fields of environmental and landscape planning, resource evaluation and management, development cooperation, nature conservation and environmental protection, geoecology and eco-management, urban and regional planning, business development, business and political consulting, geo-informatics and remote sensing, public relations, and insurance business.


I study ‘Governance of risk and resources’ in order to acquire the knowledge and skills required to deal with issues of governance processes and to help improve resources management. I chose the degree programme in Santiago de Chile and Heidelberg because it is a recognised and international programme in my home country and Heidelberg University is known for its high-quality training and education. Thanks to my new skills, I will be able to improve my own work and contribute to other organisations.

Roxana Varela, 35, Governance of Risk and Resources, 3rd semester Master