Sustainability and Environmental Change
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Area of Study
Conservation, Environmental Sustainability
Taught In English
Recommended U.S. Semester Credits3
Recommended U.S. Quarter Units4
Hours & Credits
In this course students learn about the environment’s pivotal role in achieving sustainable solutions for human development, mainly focused on global environmental problems.
After this course, students:
1. can explain key concepts from the natural sciences relevant for the study of sustainability;
2. can characterize key components of the environment, namely water, land and atmosphere, and can explain key processes affecting their characteristics;
3. can explain the role of the environment in socio-environmental systems;
4. can identify methods to quantify the state of the environment, and analyze environmental change;
5. can perform SWOT derived from the environmental conditions for specific sustainability challenges.
The environment plays a crucial role in supporting societies, for example by providing materials, energy, food, clean air, and clean water. Environmental conditions change over space and time, influenced by both natural and human factors. In this course students learn about the environment’s pivotal role in achieving sustainable solutions for human development. Starting from the key environmental components water, land and atmosphere, we characterize environmental change and how that leads to other environmental and societal changes. Methods to assess environmental change are addressed and students identify for their specific case studies what strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, and threats are associated to the ‘planet dimension’. The course comprises interactive lectures and exercises and is evaluated through an assignment and a written exam.
The course is organized in thematic weeks, which provide students with an understanding of the specifics of the dimensions water, land and atmosphere, how these can be studied and how they interact. Each week has 1 to 2 lectures, in parallel to which students develop their assignment. Lectures (H) and assignment are supported by in-class discussions (W), reading material, self-study, and exercises.
TYPE OF ASSESSMENT
The course will be evaluated through
1) Group Assignment (A): SWOT analysis in Planet domain for personal case in the form presentation & working paper (30% of final grade)
2) A closed-book written exam (E) (70% of final grade). A minimum grade of 5.5 is required to pass the course. There is one resit opportunity for the exam. Assignments with a grade lower than 5.5 can be improved once, after which the maximum grade that can be obtained for the assignment is 6.0.
RECOMMENDED BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE
Grand Challenges (minor Sustainability: Global Challenges, Interdisciplinary Solutions. Period 1)
Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.
Some courses may require additional fees.