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Environmental Principles of Global Sustainable Development


 Dr Alastair Smith

Module Leader

Term 2
10 weeks
10 weekly, 1 hour lectures
10 weekly, 1.5 hour workshops
Not available to students outside the School for Cross-Faculty Studies

Moodle Platform »

Something on the environmental principles, of truth, indifference, the future, and a hopeful message for action:

Please note: The information on this page relates to the 2021-22 academic year.

Principal Aims

This module allows you to investigate a range of perspectives on Sustainable Development from the perspective of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary Environmental Studies. It aims to equip you with the capacity to engage in academically-grounded and critical discussion of the world’s most pressing environmental issues, as well as associated policy responses at a range of geographical scales. Furthermore, it aims to establish skills for the creation and the persuasive presentation of environmental policy to key decision makers specifically through the creation of a Policy Briefing paper and a Policy Pitch.

Principal Learning Outcomes

Upon completing this module you will have acquired specific knowledge and understanding that allows you to:

  • Explain the main reasons for concern about the environmental health of our planet today, along with the causes, extent, relation to human activities, and impacts of anthropogenic activities over time;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of scientific knowledge in the consideration of environmental sustainability;
  • Critically appraise discourses of environmental decline and sustainability from an interdisciplinary perspective;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of key academic concepts, frameworks and theories used in relation to environmental sustainability;
  • Critically evaluate governance opportunities for greater global environmental sustainability;
  • Undertake academically rigorous research into environmental problems to produce policy and practice relevant proposals;
  • Persuade environmental decision makers about the merits of evidence-based policy, and practice articulating your proposals in written and oral formats.

Indicative Syllabus

  1. Introduction: The Natural Environment, Human Values and Conceptual Interpretation
  2. Constructing Knowledge of the Environment: Philosophy and Evidence
  3. Introduction to Ecological Principles and Processes
  4. Ecology and Biodiversity for Sustainable Development
  5. Stratospheric Ozone Depletion: International best practice for global change?
  6. Elementary Sustainability: Biogeochemical Flows and Intergenerational Justice
  7. The Sustainability Trump Card? Climate Change and Ocean Acidification
  8. “Water, water everywhere… [concentrated and reserved for the global elite]”
  9. Land-System Change: Loss of the natural world and its implications
  10. Speed Bumps and Sustainability? Chemical pollution & atmospheric aerosol loading.

NB: The specifics of session might vary with revisions in responses to research-led-scholarship and student feedback.