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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
Summary*Please note that due to staff sabbaticals, this course will not be running in academic year 2022-23*

Welcome to Human Dimensions of Environmental Change. We live in a new geological age the Anthropocene in which human activity is having a profoundly damaging and potentially irreversible impact upon the planet. This course provides an introduction to the human dimensions of environmental change, recognising that these human dimensions are perceived and analysed in different ways, by different people.
We will interrogate the human dimensions of environmental change through three analytical perspectives from foundational environmental social sciences: social-ecological systems theory, political ecology, 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 use change, climate change and biodiversity change.
The course allows students to develop a deeper understanding of the three approaches we use to understand the human dimensions of environmental change. In so doing, we invite students to critically engage with environmental change in the Anthropocene.
The course is taught in an interactive manner in which student-led interrogation of the three analytical perspectives, and what they reveal about the human dimensions of environmental change, is key to achieving the learning outcomes. The teaching team will facilitate student learning and students are encouraged to lead discussions to deepen their understanding of the material.
Course description Weeks 1-4: Course introduction and introduction to the three analytical perspectives (lectures and tutorials)
Weeks 5-7: Deepening understanding of an analytical perspective through a group project
Weeks 8-11: Deepening your understanding through comparing the perspectives (lectures, tutorials, class exercises, peer-review of each other¿s draft essays)
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 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 Clare Barnes
Tel: (0131 6)50 2287
Course secretaryMs Louisa King
Tel: (01316) 502306
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