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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Eco-social policy and sustainable welfare (PGSP11604)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course engages with one of the most difficult contemporary questions for social and public policy: how can we reach the goal of equitable and fair welfare policies for all without destroying our planet in the process? The dilemma at the heart of much of social policy is its continuing reliance on growth as the means of poverty alleviation and the answer to inequality. By engaging with the concepts such as 'wellbeing', 'sustainability', 'planetary boundaries', 'zero growth' and 'just transition', the course explores the ways social and public policy scholars and practitioners are responding to the challenge of rethinking the design and delivery of social policy in line with the notion of sustainable wellbeing.

The course takes an applied approach where students will engage with real-world policy dilemmas and critically appraise suggested solutions. The practical element of the course is further strengthened by contributions from external expert input.

Course description The course examines global environmental issues, such as climate change, from the perspective of social and public policy. These issues will be explored by linking scholarship on environmental policy, climate change policy and sustainability with core questions of social policy. How can we meet the goal of sustainability without compromising on the goals of social justice, fairness and equity? How can we continue to develop progressive social policies without relying on economic growth as the main driver of such policies?

The learning aims of the course:

- To explain how ecological and environmental perspectives shape our thinking about social policy
- To demonstrate how a wellbeing approach enables us to think about environmental sustainability together with progressive social policy
- To analyse the relationship between welfare regimes and sustainability
- To consider the political challenges of implementing a wellbeing approach in practice
- To evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of social policy approaches incorporating environmental perspectives, such as eco-social policies and the UN sustainable development goals

The weekly themes will include amongst others:

- Climate change as a super-wicked policy problem
- Social policy from an ecological perspective
- Wellbeing and its measurements
- Beyond GDP - the wellbeing economy approach
- Wellbeing and welfare states
- Eco-social policies and sustainability
- Politics of wellbeing - how to achieve a just transition?
- Sustainable development goals and social policy
- Resilience and social policy

Learning experience
The course will be taught through a weekly two-hour lecture/seminar. The lecture element of each session will introduce the core material and concepts for each week, which will be then discussed further in the seminar part of the session through group work and other interactive activities. Each session will consist of mini lectures, punctuated by discussion. In order to bring in external stakeholders and practitioners we may also make use of pre-recorded online material. In preparation for each session students will be asked to read both core academic text(s) and cases (these could draw, for example, on reports, journal articles, organisations) which will be used to demonstrate, better understand and critically unpack the key concepts introduced in the mini lectures. The assessment on this course will take the form of a country case report and long essay. Preparations for assessment will be supported by making available illustrative examples of relevant cases and dedicated in-class advice sessions.

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. critically engage with the challenges of sustainability for social policy making.
  2. evaluate social policy in the context of limits to economic growth and planetary boundaries.
  3. compare welfare state approaches in achieving a green and just transition.
  4. apply research and inquiry skills to identify and tackle real world policy problems.
  5. appraise the challenges associated with the implementation of eco-social policies.
Reading List
Buechs , M. and Koch, M. (2017) Postgrowth and Wellbeing. Challenges to sustainable welfare, Palgrave Macmillan.

Fitzpatrick, T. and Cahill, M. (2002) Environment and welfare¿: towards a green social policy. Edited by T. Fitzpatrick and M. Cahill. Palgrave Macmillan.

Gough, I. (2017) Heat, Greed and Human Need. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Hirvilammi, T. and Helne, T. (2014) ¿Changing Paradigms: A Sketch for Sustainable Wellbeing and Ecosocial Policy¿, SUSTAINABILITY, 6(4), pp. 2160¿2175.

Laurent, E. (2018) Measuring Tomorrow. Princeton University Press
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Generic cognitive skills (comparison, evaluation, critical analysis)
Communication skills (verbal and written)
Effective engagement with others and autonomous work
Real-world policy problem solving skills
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Markus Ketola
Course secretaryMrs Casey Behringer
Tel: (0131 6)50 2456
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