Sustainable Development and Global Transitions

Course Description: 

The course will provide an overview of the concept of sustainable development, including a review of its underlying rationale, theory, evolution, use in various current policy contexts and its critique. Perspectives from sustainability science will be introduced and critically reviewed. We will consider sustainable development as a problem of transition in complex socio-ecological systems mainly through the lens of governance and policy. We will get acquainted in detail with tools and mechanisms, such as sustainability indicators, assessments, scenarios and strategies. We will explore how these could be used to inform the articulation of goals and visions and the construction of adaptive transition pathways, with an explicit link to the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and related implementation mechanisms. Throughout the course conceptual points will be illustrated with practical examples at various – ecosystem, community, national or international – scales and in different sectors. The course will combine lectures with various interactive elements, including small group work, micro-exercises, a simulation game and a field trip. An individual course assignment will focus on building implementation strategies related to a specific SDG in a given country, briefly presenting and discussing it in a panel setting. A 2-day mandatory field trip at the end of the course to an eco-village in rural Hungary will confront students with the day-to-day realities – risks, opportunities, tradeoffs and intractable dilemmas - of a lived sustainability experiment and explore the manifestation of global sustainability principles in everyday settings.

Learning Outcomes: 
  1. Be familiar with the underlying rationale for sustainable development as a science and policy domain and a field of practice;
  2. Understand the context of global SD goals and transitions;
  3. Know some of the key analytic and policy tools related to SD;
  4. Have learnt to apply the SD framework for the analysis of socio-ecological system in a place-based context;
  5. Familiarity with global sustainability issues and key political processes.
Assessment: 

Class participation, contribution to online discussions (40%)

Assignment (40%)

Presentation of assignment (20%)

Prerequisites: 

None