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

Postgraduate Course: Innovation for Sustainability (PGGE11184)

This course will be closed from 13 January 2017

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course gives an overview as well as an in-depth understanding of the role of science, technology and innovation (ST&I) for a transition to a more sustainable society. Along behavioural, institutional and political change, ST&I can play key roles for sustainability, but only if managed and governed well.

The course is suitable for postgraduate students in the general area of environmental sustainability, including both interdisciplinary and social science programmes. This course aims to provide a course option for students in these programmes who wish to gain a deeper understanding about the management and governance of ST&I in the context of sustainability transitions (ST).
Course description The course addresses the need and scope for societal transitions to environmental sustainability. The starting point is the literature on sustainability transitions, transitions management (TM) and the multi-level perspective (MLP). The course provides case studies of system innovation from a range of societal sectors, including: energy, water, manufacturing and consumption. The course also presents critiques of the transitions school, and introduces wider practical and political issues raised by it. Intellectually, the course is rooted in the socio-technical study of innovation, but also mobilises ideas from wider social and environmental sciences.

Weeks 1-2: Introduction to course, and introduction to sustainability transitions, transitions management (TM) and multi-level perspective (MLP)
Weeks 3-6: Case studies: Manufacturing, energy, water and consumption.
Week 7: Step back and evaluate
Week 8: Critique the politics of TM
Week 9: Transitions and environmental governance: Regulation, markets, etc.
Week 10: Transitions and society: Marxism, neo-liberalism, institutionalism, etc.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On successful completion of the course, students will have demonstrated through written work, oral presentations and other contributions in class, that they:
- have a substantive knowledge and understanding of a selection of important issues relating to the role of ST&I in sustainability transitions (ST), and of the contending viewpoints and claims on these issues;
- can identify and characterise key approaches from social science disciplines and from interdisciplinary fields like science and technology studies and innovation studies to understanding and evaluating sustainability transitions and identify advantages, problems and implications of these approaches;
- can critically evaluate contributions to the academic and public debates on ST issues, and decisions on them;
- can apply these understandings and skills, and deploy some of these approaches, concepts and techniques, in analysing a range of problems relating to ST&I in environmental policy, and in devising, evaluating and justifying options for intervention.
Reading List
Key readings include:
The Climate Change Committee (2009) Meeting Carbon Budgets the need for a step change. Progress report to Parliament. Executive Summary.
Ekins, P. and Skea, J. (eds) (2009) Making the transition to a secure and low-carbon energy system: synthesis report, UK Energy Research Centre, London.
Elzen B, Geels F, Green K, editors. System innovation and the transition to sustainability: theory, evidence and policy. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar; 2004.
Geels, F. (2005) The dynamics of transitions in socio-technical systems: A multi-level analysis of the transition pathway from horse-drawn carriages to automobiles (1860-1930). Technology Analysis and Strategic Management 17:4, 445-476.
Geels, F. (2006) Major system change through stepwise reconfiguration: a multi-level analysis of the transformation of American factory production (1850-1930). Technology in Society 28(4), 445-476.
HM Government (2009) The UK Low Carbon Transition Plan National strategy for climate and energy
Kemp, R., Schot, J. and Hoogma, R. (1998) Regime Shifts through Processes of Niche Formation: the approach of Strategic Niche Management. Technology Analysis and Strategic Management 10: 175-195.
Kern, F. and Smith, A. (2008) Restructuring energy systems for sustainability? Energy transition policy in the Netherlands. Energy Policy 36: 4093-4103.
Smith, A and Kern, F. (2009) The transitions storyline in Dutch environmental policy. Environmental Politics 18(1): 78-98.
Voss, J-P., Smith, A. and Grin, J. (2009) Designing long-term policy: rethinking transition management, Policy Sciences 42:275302.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Critical evaluation of arguments; inter-disciplinary synthesis of problem framings and evidence
KeywordsEnvironmental sustainability; Sustainability transitions; Science, technology and innovation
Course organiserDr Simon Shackley
Tel: (0131 6)50 7862
Course secretaryMs Rachel Chisholm
Tel: (0131 6)50 2572
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