The aim of this course is to provide a systematic overview of the ecosystem service approach, which is pivotal in the current global sustainability agenda and represents a shared language for natural, social, and economic sciences. The underlying logic of the ecosystem service approach is to support nature conservation without disconnecting it from sustainable development. The concept has been developed into a theoretical framework with several practical applications. Still, relevant literature is far from converging towards a theoretical consensus. Part of this plurality originates from confusion or misinterpretation of the concept, and part is the result of the incremental development of new concepts that deserve to be understood and embraced.
The course aims to clarify the foundational concepts and applications within the ecosystem service literature, including: Definition and classification of the ecosystem service approach; Identification and use of indicators; Monetary and non-monetary valuation; Governance challenges; Stakeholder engagement processes; Limitations and opportunities for future applications (e.g., service science).
The lectures will be based on a mixture of presentations and classroom discussions based around foundational Ecosystem service literature.
- Day 1: Introduction to the course; Ecosystem service definitions and classifications.
- Day 2: Ecosystem service indicators; Monetary and non-monetary valuation.
- Day 3: Ecosystem service governance; Stakeholder engagement (e.g. business).
- Day 4: Limitations and ethical considerations in Ecosystem service thinking; Opportunities for future applications (e.g. Service science).
- Day 5: Summary, general discussion, instructions for writing the essay.
Pre-/Post-Campus Assignments and Evaluation Elements
Prior to the course, participants should independently read the assigned literature and write a presentation letter about their research, familiarity with the concepts, and expectations for the course (1 page). Evaluation will be based on a final essay to be written independently after the course ends, which can be linked to their own research interests. Grading will be pass/fail.
Based on the European qualification framework, the desired learning outcomes are the following:
- Knowledge: Obtain a comprehensive and critical understanding of the emerging Ecosystem service concept, framework and approach.
- Skills: Capacity building towards a critical analysis of ecosystem service thinking and the application of the ecosystem service approach in research and practice. This includes critical thinking in the application of current approaches to solving multidisciplinary ecosystem service-related challenges.
- Competence: Ability to independently identify research gaps, limitations and potential opportunities. Support and promotion of future multi and inter-disciplinary collaboration between researcher and practitioners from NOVA and BOVA countries on the topic.
The teaching will present the concepts, followed by active and critical discussion among the participants. The adopted pedagogical approach would therefore imply a learning process through constructive debate.
Independent work includes reading and preparation for the course (40 hours) and writing a final essay (70 hours). The course will include five days of intensive frontal lectures (40 hours). The total course workload consists therefore of 150 hours.
Given the encompassing multidisciplinary nature of this concept, we welcome doctoral students with any kind of curriculum background, but we regard the course to be of particular interest for researchers of natural, social, and economic sciences. Candidates do not need to have familiarity with the Ecosystem service concept, but the course will be more than introductory. We therefore require that the participants familiarize themselves with assigned literature.
Admission for NOVA courses is handled by the course organiser/ the NOVA member institution organising the course. Please see the links in the margin for more information.