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

Postgraduate Course: Human dimensions of environmental change and sustainability (PGGE11130)

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
SummaryWelcome to Human Dimensions of Environmental Change and Sustainability. We live in a new geological age ¿ the Anthropocene ¿ in which human activity is having profoundly damaging and potentially irreversible impacts upon the planet. Environmental change resulting from that activity calls into question the sustainability of the relationship between humankind and the natural environment upon which we depend. In this course, we examine the human dimensions of environmental change and sustainability issues, encompassing societal, political, economic, technological and cultural aspects, as they relate to the broad, interconnected topics of land, global change, energy, water, biodiversity and food. The interconnectedness of these topics will be discussed throughout the course by reflecting on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The analytical perspectives employed in the course to analyse the human dimensions of environmental change and sustainability issues are: Transitions Theory, Social-Ecological Systems and Political Ecology.
Course description Week 1: Introduction to the course and Analytical Perspective 1: Transitions Theory
Week 2: Analytical Perspective 2: Social-Ecological Systems, and Analytical Perspective 3: Political Ecology
Week 3: Land
Week 4: Global Change
Week 5: Energy
Week 6: Water
Week 7: Biodiversity
Week 8: Food
Week 9: Governance
Week 10: Poster Presentations
Week 11: Course Reflection
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
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Engage critically with a range of contemporary environmental change and sustainability topics, especially regarding the societal, political, economic, technological and cultural aspects of managing and responding to contemporary environmental change and sustainability problems;
  2. Critically reflect on the interrelationships between topics of environmental change and sustainability;
  3. Apply and critique a range of analytical perspectives on environmental change and sustainability;
  4. Develop transferrable professional skills in group work and in communicating through poster presentations and writing policy briefs;
  5. Search for, review and critique academic and policy documents to summarise, evaluate and gain a deeper understanding of particular environmental change and sustainability topics and debates.
Reading List
Blaikie, P. (1995) Changing environments or changing views? A political ecology for developing countries, Geography 80 pp.203

Death, C., & Gabay, C., (2015) Doing Biopolitics Differently? Radical Potential in the Post-2015 MDG and SDG Debates, Globalizations 12 (4) pp. 597-612.

Folke, C., Hahn, T., Olsson, P. & Norberg, J. (2005) Adaptive Governance of Social-ecological systems, Annual Review of Environmental Resources 30 pp. 441¿73

Griggs, D., Stafford-Smith, M., Gaffney, O., Rockström, J., Öhman, M.C., Shyamsundar, P., Steffen, W., Glaser, G., Kanie, N., & Noble, N., (2013) Policy: Sustainable development goals for people and planet, Nature 495 pp. 305¿307

Loorbach, D., Frantzeskaki, F. & Avelino, F. (2017) Sustainability Transitions Research: Transforming Science and Practice for Societal Change, Annual Review of Environment and Resources 42 pp. 599¿626

Peet, R., Robbins, P. & Watts, M. (2011) Global Political Ecology. New York: Routledge

Robbins, P. (2012) Political Ecology: A critical introduction (2nd edition) Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell (read Part 1: 1 Political versus Apolitical Ecologies (p11))

Rotmans, J. & Loorbach, D. (2009) Complexity and Transition Management, Journal of Industrial Ecology 13 (2) pp. 184-196¿

The Guardian (29th August 2016) The Anthropocene epoch: scientists declare dawn of human-influenced age.

Walker, B., Holling, C.S., Carpenter, S.R. & Kinzig, A. (2004) Resilience, adaptability and transformability in social¿ecological systems. Ecology and Society 9(2): 5.

[Additional readings will be detailed in the course handbook]
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Special Arrangements This course is often over-subscribed. Please notify the course secretary ( during induction week if you wish to take this course.
KeywordsPGGE11130 Environment,sustainability,science-policy interface,interdisciplinarity
Course organiserMs Clare Barnes
Tel: (0131 6)50 2287
Course secretaryMrs Paula Escobar
Tel: (0131 6)50 2543
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