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

Postgraduate Course: Human Dimensions of Environmental Change (PGGE11249)

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
SummaryWelcome to Human Dimensions of Environmental Change. We live in a new geological age the Anthropocene in which human activity is having profoundly damaging and potentially irreversible impacts upon the planet. This course interrogates various dimensions of environmental change from the perspective of foundational environmental social sciences, including social-ecological systems theory, political ecology, and natural resource and environmental economics. These different bodies of work would tend to diagnose different root causes of problems of environmental change, rely on different narrative interpretations of change, and ultimately prescribe different solutions. The course will consistently make use of these different lenses for analysis of a range of thematic environmental change challenges, and in doing so, will illuminate both theoretical and applied implications of these approaches. The themes we address in the course include: land (food, and human population), water, biodiversity, climate change and environmental migration. Through the heuristic of myths and realities, the course will invite students to critically engage with environmental change in the Anthropocene.
Course description Week 1: Course introduction
Week 2 & 3: Establishing the framework of student-led interrogation of human dimensions of environmental change
Week 4: Climate Change (including student-led interrogation from 2 theoretical perspectives)
Week 5: Land, food and population (including student-led interrogation from 2 theoretical perspectives)
Week 6: Biodiversity (including student-led interrogation from 2 theoretical perspectives)
Week 7: Water (Summative student-led presentation interrogating water issues from 3 theoretical perspectives)
Week 8: [Provisional Guest Lecture] Environmental change and human migration
Week 9: Facilitated discussion of peer review of essay plans
Week 10: Critically reflecting on the 3 theoretical approaches in light of all our learning
Week 11: Course wrap up
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  50
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) Coursework: 100%

Group presentation (30% of marks, composed of 1/3rd student peer marking 10% of final mark). Interrogating an environmental change issue from a theoretical stance.

Essay (70% of marks, composed of 10% (of module mark) reflective statement on use of peer feedback): Examine an environmental change issue from a theoretical stance developed in HDEC and evaluate the extent to which it illuminates human dimensions of the issue of environmental change. 2000 words; 500 (additional) words on reflective statement regarding use of peer feedback. The choice of topic should differ from that chosen for the presentations. The assignment requires students to critically appraise the theoretical lens adopted and show how other approaches might make up for its weaknesses.
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Engage critically with contemporary environmental change from a social science perspective;
  2. Be conversant with a range of environmental change issues and the human dimensions of these;
  3. Apply, critique and compare a range of analytical perspectives on environmental change issues;
  4. Demonstrate skills in group work and in verbal communication through presentations and in written communications through essays;
  5. Give appropriate and constructive academic feedback to a peer and use feedback to develop their own work.
Reading List
Outline reading list:

NB - there will be a fully referenced electronic reading list to accompany the course available from Welcome Week.

Adams, W.M. 2001. Green Development: Environment and Sustainability in the Third World. London: Routledge

Adger, W.N., Katrina Brown and Mike Hulme 2005 Redefining Global Environmental Change, Global Environmental Change 15.1 pp1-4.

Adger, W. N. 2000 Social and ecological resilience: are they related? Progress in Human Geography 24(3), 347-364.

Adger, W.N., Benjaminsen, T.A., Brown, K., Svarstad, H. (2001) Advancing a Political Ecology of Global Environmental Discourses. Development & Change 32, 681 715.

Adger, W. N., S. H. Huq, K. Brown, D. Conway and M. Hulme (2003). "Adaptation to climate change in the developing world." Progress in Development Studies 3(3): 179-195.

Berkes, F., et al. (2003). Navigating Social-Ecological Systems: Building Resilience for Complexity and Change. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Blaikie, P. M. and H. C. Brookfield (1987). Land Degradation and Society. London, Routledge.

Costanza, R., R. d'Arge, R. de Groot, S. Farber, M. Grasso, B. Hannon, K. Limburg, S. Naeem, R. V. O'Neill, J. Paruelo, R. G. Raskin, P. Sutton and M. van den Belt (1997). "The value of the world's ecosystem services and natural capital." Nature, 387(6630): 253-260.

Fairhead, J., Leach, M. (1995) False Forest History, Complicit Social Analysis: Rethinking Some West African Environmental Narratives. World Development 23, 1023 1035.

Folke, C. (2006). "Resilience: The emergence of a perspective for social-ecological systems analyses." Global Environmental Change 16(3): 253-267.

Forsyth, T., 2003. Critical Political Ecology. The Politics of Environmental Science. London: Routledge

Hulme, M, 2010 Why we disagree about climate change, Cambridge: CUP

Jackson, T. (2009) Prosperity without growth: economics for a finite planet London: Earthscan

MEA (2005) Millennium Ecosystem Assessment: Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Synthesis., Press, I., Washington, DC

Norgaard, R. B. (2010). "Ecosystem services: From eye-opening metaphor to complexity blinder." Ecological Economics, 69(6): 1219-1227.

O'Brien, K. and R. Leichenko (2000). "Double exposure: assessing the impacts of climate change within the context of economic globalization." Global Environmental Change 10: 221-232.

Pearce, D. W. and E. Barbier (2000). Blueprint for a sustainable economy. London, Earthscan.

Pearce, D. W., et al. (1989). Blueprint for a green economy. London, Earthscan.

Turner, R. K., et al. (1993). Environmental economics: an elementary introduction, Johns Hopkins University Press.

Walker, B and Salt, D 2006 Resilience thinking, Island Press
Vitousek, P.M., Mooney, H.A., Lubchenco, J., Melillo, J.M. (1997) Human Domination of Earth's Ecosystems. Science 277, 494-499.

The Guardian (29th August 2016) The Anthropocene epoch: scientists declare dawn of human-influenced age.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Keywordsenvironmental change,human dimensions
Course organiserDr Janet Fisher
Tel: (0131 6)50 5097
Course secretaryMrs Paula Escobar
Tel: (0131 6)50 2543
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