EDS306 Foundations of Sustainability Science
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Showing course contents for the educational year starting in 2016 .
Course responsible: Erik Nicolas Gomez Baggethun
Teachers: Ola Tveitereid Westengen, Arild Vatn
ECTS credits: 10
Faculty: Faculty of Landscape and Society
Teaching language: EN
Teaching exam periods:
Course starts in Autumn parallel. Course has teaching and examination in Autumn parallel.
Course frequency: Annually
First time: 2016H
Sustainability science has its origins in the concept of sustainable development, proposed by the World Commissions on Environment and Development (WCED), which has been guiding international environmental policies over the last three decades. The course however looks beyond the concept of sustainable development to critically scrutinize dominant development paradigms and explore alternative pathways for human-nature co-evolution.
The course consists of three main parts: theory, practice, and assignments. The theoretical consists of lectures and includes an introduction to the course followed by four main blocks (A, B, C, D). The first class presents the course structure and methodology and the key concepts and themes. Block A, "Global environmental challenges of the Anthropocene" advances notions of global change and the Earth system, the distinct nature of the Anthropocene, the Great Acceleration, drivers of planetary change, planetary boundaries, the condition of ecological life support systems and global food security challenges. Block B, "Ecosystem assessment and resilience analysis", covers concepts, theories and methods in integrated environmental assessment and resilience theory. Topics will include the links between ecosystems and human well-being, evaluation of ecosystem functions and services, and notions in resilience assessment, including regime shifts and thresholds, cycles of change, cross-scale interactions, and vulnerability and adaptive capacity in the face of disturbance and change.
Block C, "Institutional analysis of sustainability problems" introduces theories, methods and approaches in environmental governance, including models of human behavior, formal and non-formal institutions, theories of access, resource regimes and management of common pool resources. Finally, Block D, "The political economy of the environment", examines economic roots of environmental problems, different approaches to the conflict between growth and the environment, , environmental values and valuation languages, environmental justice and controversies around the commodification of nature.
The practical part will focus on the application of solutions to environmental problems. It will include structured group discussions and a workshop. The workshop consists of a half-day exercise during which students will run the "Fish-banks simulation game", concerned with governance of fisheries. The workshop is designed to train students, researchers and practitioners in the governance and sustainable use of common pool resources (CPRs) and provide insights on cooperation and competition dynamics in collective action situations. Students will be grouped in teams that compete for economic returns on fishing while at the same time have to cooperate in order to avoid the collapse of the resource.
The assignments are organized as group work where the focus is on developing skills in scientific writing. The course include two assignments. The first assignments consists of a short group essay based on lessons learnt from the CPRs workshop. The second assignment consists of a longer group essay in a paper format and an application to a case study.
By completion of the course we expect attendants to have developed understanding of the social, technological and economic roots of environmental degradation, learned basic concepts and frameworks in environmental and sustainability analysis, and be familiarized with integrated approaches to the analysis of coupled, social, ecological and economic systems. The students shall acquire theoretical insights and practical tools for understanding and assessing the links between ecosystems and human well-being, identify and characterize environmental values and use different valuation approaches. Students shall further acquire knowledge on the design of economic incentives and policy tools for environmental protection as well as learn basic notions in environmental management and governance. Students should also have read key literature in environmental and sustainability sciences.
Supervision in connection with term paper
A selection of journal papers and book chapters will be provided by the start of the course
The course is adapted to the background of the students enrolled in the M-IES program.
Basic knowledge within political science/economics/social sciences and biology/ecology/environmental sciences
Some lectures and seminars and the Fishbanks workshop will be compulsory.
Exam in ENGLISH ONLY. Workshop assignment counts 10%; Term paper counts 30 %. Written exam counts 60 %.
Minimum requirements for entrance to higher education in Norway (generell studiekompetanse)
Type of course:
Lectures 40 hours, workhops 6 hours, supervision in connection with term paper 2 hours.
Allowed examination aids: No calculator, no other aids
Examination details: Continuous exam: A - E / Ikke bestått