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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Postgraduate Courses (School of GeoSciences)

Postgraduate Course: Foundations in Ecological Economics (PGGE11004)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines the principles of economics and how they might be applied to environmental and resource-use issues. The course should appeal to students who would like to obtain a grounding in economics from first principles so as to assist in decision-making and problem-solving. This course assumes no prior knowledge of economics.
Course description The purpose of this course is to provide students with a comprehensive introduction to ecological economics. This includes an examination of economic principles and how they can be applied to environmental and resource-use issues, as well as an examination of the policy implications of ecological economics.

No prior knowledge of either ecosystems or economics is assumed. This course should appeal to students who would like to obtain a grounding in how economic thought can be applied to assist in decision-making and problem-solving. As such, the course will strongly emphasize student discussion and peer-to-peer learning.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  60
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 44, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 152 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) The full mark for this course will be based on a series of assessments of varying sizes and due dates

Assessment Value Due Date
Concept Maps 3.5% x 10 = 35% Every Saturday at 11:59 pm
Peer Assessment of CMs 0.5% x 10 = 5% Every Monday at 11:59 pm
Essay 30% 2nd November at 11:59 pm
Final Project 30% 21st December 2015

Concept Maps
Each week students must consider the focal question and concept list for that week and analyse how the concepts and information presented in the reading can answer that question. This analysis must then be organised and presented within the form of a content map.

Each content map will be worth 4% of the final course mark (3.5% for the concept map itself and 0.5% for the peer review of someone else┐s concept map. Don┐t worry, this is anonymous).

Each concept map will require a certain minimum number of the listed concepts be included, and points will be earned for integrating peer-reviewed articles that you have found on the same topics covered in class into the map, and for examples you include in the map.

Concept maps are assessed according to the rubric handed out in class

Essay: Pick 1 Topic from the List Below (or propose your own with approval from the course organiser)
1. Despite Garrett Harding┐s infamous ┐Tragedy of the Commons, community management of a resource is a perfectly reasonable way of managing a resource.

2. A Pareto-optimum is said to obtain when nothing more can be given to the hungry, the cold, the ragged and the homeless without incommoding the glutton, the miser, the usurer and the play-boy.┐ [Peet, J. (1992) Energy and the Ecological Economics of Sustainability.]

Discuss the criticisms made of Pareto-optimality as a fundamental underpinning to welfare theory.

3. Write an essay in which you critically appraise the primacy of efficient allocation as an objective within neoclassical economics

4. Land Value Tax, which is in my opinion the Holy Grail of legislative changes to protect wildlife, is the simplest expression of the Economic theories of Henry George. This theory goes that if we abolish all harmful taxes on our hard work and trade and instead charge a rent for the use of natural resources such as Land we will not waste them or allow private interests to exploit the rest of humanities access to them. [Blog Entry, April 2014]

Write an essay in which you critically appraise the extent to which the Land Value Tax is the ┐Holy Grail┐ of sustainable natural resource use.

5. Equity and the benefits of cap-and-trade systems. Using a mix of theory and case study-based evidence, write an essay in which you critically appraise distributional consequences of cap-and-trade approaches to decreasing pollution or emissions

6. Write an essay in which you critically evaluate the following statement: Technological solutions are the most likely to enable the achievement of sustainable resource use in the future.

7. Economic Valuation Nature: Necessary Response to Market Failures or Unethical Commodification? Write an essay in which you critically appraise the necessity and ethics of economically valuing non-market natural resources.

Additional Information
You will need to construct and present an original, written argument that is informed by peer-reviewed literature, and not a summary of what is in the peer-reviewed literature
You may need to work ahead of what is covered in class, depending on the topic selected.
You should use the Harvard author-date style as documented in Cite Them Right online Available online MyEd Login
References to extensive external reading of peer-reviewed literature are required

Read strategically when preparing for these essays. Always keep in mind what information you need in order to evaluate the question/topic.
Keep electronic notes. Use an electronic reference manager (e.g. EndNote, Zotero, Mendeley, etc.)
Final Project
In lieu of an exam, you will be required to submit a final project no later than the last day of the exam period.
You will need to pick one of two forms for this project: A Knowledge Model for Ecological Economics or an Analysis of an Ecological Economics problem
Both forms will reward diligent work throughout the semester, and will require critical thinking and analysis across the course material. They just accomplish this in very different ways.
Knowledge Model
o A Knowledge Model┐ (KM) consists of the integration of concept maps (and additional resources such as journal articles, examples, reports, etc.) within a particular domain of knowledge.
o Creating an KM requires identifying the conceptual links between the concepts included in the individual concept maps created previously (as these concept maps cover much smaller segments of the domain of knowledge in question)
o You will need to correct, modify, and expand upon the concept maps you have created already, drawing on the text book, peer reviewed literature that you have read throughout the semester and on relevant examples you have come across
o You will also need to explicitly link the contents of the knowledge model to the field you studied as an undergraduate and to the other PGT modules you are taking in first semester. This link can be as deep or as superficial as you feel is an accurate reflection of reality. However, the links do need to be there.
o This is a challenging task, but is one that does not require dealing with writing and reading in English in a time-pressured way. Instead, it rewards critical thinking and small, but continuous efforts of reading and engagement throughout the whole semester.
o The feedback received on individual concept maps should inform the KM
o A rubric will be handed out in class to explain how it will be scored and what the minimum requirements are
Ecological Economics Problem Analysis
o This will take the form of a (max) 3,500 word essay
o In order to complete this assignment, you will need to identify (and submit for approval) a real-world Ecological Economics problem that you are interested in researching
o You will then need to research the problem and apply what you have learned in class
o Your essay must analyse (i.e. present an argument regarding) the extent to which the problem is one of sustainable scale, just distribution, and/or efficient allocation (the three main concerns of Ecological Economics).
o You will need to present an argument as to what type of policy would be best suited, given available knowledge, to tackling the problem
o As an appendix you must also submit a 1-page outline of a research project that would provide important data/information that the literature currently says is missing.
o A rubric will be handed out in class to explain how this will be marked.

Assessment Marking
All assignments must be submitted through TurnItIn (an online plagiarism detection software)
o Any suspected plagiarism cases will be reported to the School of GeoSciences academic misconduct officer

Guidance on avoiding plagiarism can be found here
The procedure that will be followed if plagiarism is detected can be found here

For the essay, a modified standard GeoSciences rubric will be used
The concept maps and the final project will utilise alternate rubrics that will be presented to the class
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Obtain a solid understanding of the key concepts in ecological economics, and how they relate to each other.
  2. Acquire a critical understanding of the consequences of economic activity occurring on a finite planet, and be introduced to, and be able to assess, the relevance of the laws of Thermodynamics to economic activity.
  3. Understand what is meant by stock-flow and fund-service resources, and will be able to apply these concepts to resource use to better understand the nature of resource use dilemmas.
  4. Gain insight into the interaction between industry structure and the environment.
  5. Be able to analyse different types of market failures and how these market failures relate to the environment.
Reading List
Throughout the course of the semester, this course will use the following text book:

Daly, Herman E., and Joshua Farley. 2011. Ecological Economics: Principles and Applications. Washington DC: Island Press (2nd Edition).

Prior to each class, students must complete the reading and homework specified in the course outline, as the purpose of the lecture is to discuss and advance concepts, not to introduce them.

Note: The amount of required text-book reading varies each week, but on average, students should expect to be reading 9.5 text book pages per day, 5 days per week, for the duration of the semester.

In addition to the assigned text book readings, students will be required to consult peer-reviewed journal articles for the essay and concept map assignments. Students will be responsible for finding these journal articles and will also be responsible for balancing the reading of these articles with the required text book reading.
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsFoundations in Ecological Economics,Ecological Economics,Socio-Ecological systems,Sustainability
Course organiserMs Corinne Baulcomb
Tel: 0131 535 4031
Course secretaryMrs Elspeth Martin
Tel: 0131 535 4198
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