EDS355 Climate Change and Society

Credits (ECTS):10

Course responsible:Siri Ellen Hallstrøm Eriksen, Lutgart Lenaerts

Campus / Online:Taught campus Ås

Teaching language:Engelsk

Limits of class size:70

Course frequency:Annually.

Nominal workload:250 hours.

Teaching and exam period:This course starts in autumn parallel. This course has teaching/evaluation during the autumn parallel.

About this course

Objectives of course

Climate change is one of the defining socio-environmental challenges in the 21st century. The sixth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlights that there is a rapidly narrowing window of opportunity to enable climate resilient development that supports social equity and justice, well-being, reduced poverty, ecosystem health, low warming levels and reduced risk. Actions this decade determine our prospects for ensuring sustainable development in the long term. In this course, students will learn about the characteristics, challenges and opportunities with respect to a complex climate-development society. The course introduces students to a range of topics related to the causes of, and socio-political responses to anthropogenic climate change. Both natural and social science aspects are touched upon, making it an interdisciplinary course suited for students from a variety of programme fields. After the course, students will be able to discuss, and have a grounded understanding of the relationship between science, policy, and practice with emphasis on climate change mitigation, adaptation and possible transformative pathways to sustainability. Besides lectures on theoretical subjects, case studies and seminars will allow for practical illustration of issues and active student involvement.

Course contents

During the first part of the course the students will be introduced to key concepts and issues within climate change and developed through lectures, the course textbook and some additional readings. Key concepts and themes relate to the following:

Understanding climate change and society interlinkages: Climate resilient development; urgency; interaction between climate change, poverty and livelihoods; multiple stressors and tipping points; sources of and growth in emissions; vulnerability and adaptation to climate change; political dimensions of climate action; renewable energy and policy; transformation to sustainability. Case studies from different parts of the world and seminar debates illustrate and supplement lectures.

During the second half of the course, students will choose between two themes for in-depth study through seminars and other interactive methods of student involvement. The two themes are 1) Climate change vulnerability, social justice, and health and well-being; and 2) Governing climate resilient development and societal development pathways towards sustainability.

During the course, the students will write a term paper in order to explore a topic in-depth. The term paper topic will be linked to the syllabus and themes of the course. Group work will support development of the term papers, and presentations/student-led event on climate change.

Learning outcome

Learning outcomes


The student is able to understand and critically analyse the relationship between climate change and development, has an overview of the main socio-environmental mechanisms of change and how these are related to societal development, sustainability and well-being.

Student seminars:

The student is able to put critical thinking about the links between climate change and development into practice and to perform a critical evaluation of an example of climate change action (adaptation or mitigation) within a sector or societal sphere.

The student is able to present such a critical evaluation written and orally.

The student is able to work collaboratively with others across different cultures and scientific backgrounds.

Term paper:

The student is able to critically explore an independently choosen topic related to key themes and empirical cases highlighted in the course. The student is able to access relevant scientific literature in order to reflect independently on the topic, and convey a nuanced, in-depth understanding of the topic this in writing. The student is able to find and understand academic references that are relevant to the exploration of the aforementioned topics, formulate focused research questions and sound academic arguments in a structured, academic way while using standardized guidelines for academic writing.

  • 4 hours lectures/seminars per week, group work & term paper
  • Teaching support

    Lectures: Course readings (refer to course syllabus) and lecture notes. Further course readings will be added prior to course start. Lecture notes are provided after each lecture.

    Student seminars and group work include activities to support reading and exploration of key themes and empirical case studies presented in the course, as well as writing of the term paper.

    Term paper: Students will be provided with broad key themes for selecting a topic for the term paper, and will be given supervision by the lecturer(s) in the selection of the topic and in developing the structure and focus of the term paper. After submission, each student receives feedback on his/her term paper.

  • A Bachelor degree or equivalent in a relevant field
  • Individual term paper graded A-F (100%).

  • Internal and external examiner grade the term papers.
  • Group work with in-class presentation.
  • 4 hours lectures/seminars per week. Group work and term paper.
  • Must have obtained a Bachelor degree or equivalent in a relevant field