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Week 1: Global Change Introduction

Topic 1: Introduction and Overview

Learning Outcomes:

- List common characteristics of global issues


- Understand the need for an interdisciplinary approach for addressing global issues

Definitions:

- Global change:
- Environment:
- Institutions:

Concepts and Key Points:

- What makes a problem global?


Week 2: Natural Resources & the Global Environment
Topic 2: Introduction to Global Environment

Learning Outcomes:

- Understand the Earth’s system of four main spheres: Lithosphere, Hydrosphere, Atmosphere and Biosphere
- Explain how these spheres interact via cycles that consist of reservoirs, fluxes, inputs and outputs.
- Understand how a perturbation can change the state of a system
- List examples of perturbations (natural/human caused) and system responses at different spatial and temporal scales
- Know that most global change issues involve multiple spheres

Definitions:

- Closed system:
- Open system:
- Cycle:
- Steady state:

Concepts and Key Points:

- Perturbation and system response


- Positive and negative feedback
- Linear versus non-linear response
- Interactions
- Scales of system response
Topic 3: Natural Resources and Environmental Resource Management

Learning Outcomes:

- Understand the definition of a resource and its characteristics


- Calculate how long a resource will last and describe factors that contribute to this number
- Describe the components of the resource cycle
- Understand the base objective of resource management and why it’s needed

Definitions:

- Natural resource:
- Waste:
- Sink:
- Recycling:
- Environmental resource management:

Concepts and Key Points:

- Natural resources:
- Stage of development: Potential, Actual, Reserve, Stock
- Renewability: non-renewable versus renewable
- Exhaustibility: exhaustible versus inexhaustible
- Time = Quantity of Reserve / Production Rate
- Components of resource cycle

Group Discussion:

- What do you think is the most significant global environmental problem?


- Why do you feel it is the most significant?
- Why is it a global problem?
Week 3: The Great Debate
Topic 4: The Great Transformation and Global Population Growth

Learning Outcomes:

- Understand how one can isolate the effect of humans on the ecosphere
- Explain what modes of adaptations are
- Describe different examples of human modes of adaptation
- Understand the term “Anthropocene.”
- Use I = PAT as a basic framework for describing the components of human impact on the environment
- Describe the characteristics of exponential growth and perform basic calculations
- Understand the interplay of birth, death and migration rates for local population growth
- Describe the five stages of the demographic transition and how they relate to global population growth

Definitions:

- Demographic transition:

Concepts and Key Points:

- Exponential growth:
- Natural versus human influences state of the world
- Modes of adaptation
- I = PAT
Topic 5: The Great Debate

Learning Outcomes:

- Have a deeper understanding of the I = PAT framework


- Understand the limited knowledge about curbing consumption
- Explain the background and fundamental ideas of the techno-pessimist, techno-optimist and steady state economy perspectives
- Draw and explain the characteristics of the diagrams that illustrate the above perspectives
- Explain the environmental Kuznets curve
- Be familiar with the Gapminder data visualization tool

Definitions:

- Techno-optimism:
- Techno-pessimism:

Concepts and Key Points:

- Steady-state economy
- Kuznets curve

Group Discussion:

Learning Outcomes:

- Understand the four possible views of the future and their differences: Star Trek, Ecotopia, Big Government and Mad Max

Concepts and Key Points:

- Techno-optimism versus Techno-pessimism


- Unlimited versus limited resources
- Competition promoting progress versus cooperation promoting progress
Week 4: Environmental Ethics
Topic 6: One planet, how many people?

Learning Outcomes:

- Understand the challenges regarding estimating trends in human consumption


- Explain concept of carrying capacity
- Describe different approaches for estimating the Earth’s carrying capacity (have considerable uncertainty to due many assumptions for the future)
- Understand the concept of Ecological Footprint
- Understand the concept of Planetary Boundaries and safe operating space for assessing state of the Earth system

Definitions:

- Consumption:
- Carrying capacity:
- Ecological Footprint:
- Resilience:

Concepts and Key Points:

- Planetary boundaries and safe operating space


- Self-organized system and attractor
Topic 7: Environmental Ethics

Learning Outcomes:

- Understand that our personal beliefs and values play a critical role of how we see the environment and interact with it
- Know the difference between the anthropocentric and ecocentric perspectives
- Describe the basic ecological philosophies: Domination, Stewardship, Conservation and Deep Ecology
- Understand what today’s dominant social paradigm with respect to the environment is and how it drives resource use and management
- Understand the challenges to paradigm shift and social change with respect to environmental issues

Definitions:

- Anthropocentrism:
- Ecocentrism:

Concepts and Key Points:

- Domination, Stewardship, Conservation and Deep Ecology


- Dominant social paradigm
- Paradigm shift

Group Discussion:

Learning Outcomes:

- Understand the methodology for calculating the Ecological Footprint


- Have a good understanding of the factors that contribute to your personal Ecological Footprint
- Understand how your Ecological Footprint compares to others

Concepts and Key Points:

- Ecological Footprint
- Biocapacity
- Global hectare
Week 5: Resource Management at Work
Topic 8: Resource Management at Work

Learning Outcomes:

- Understand the three main arguments why developed countries should consider managing without growth

Topic 9: How to do research for the Life Cycle Assessment

Group Discussion:
Week 6: Property Rights and Market Failures
Topic 10: Institutions and Property Rights

Learning Outcomes:

- Understand the “pie” metaphor for illustrating strategies dealing with overpopulation
- Define institutions and provide examples of formal and informal institutions
- Identify four key elements of institutions
- Explain the difference between institutions and organizations
- Know the objective of environmental economics
- Understand the different types of property rights
- Describe the concepts of excludability

Definitions:

- Institution:
- Economics:
- Environmental Economics:

Concepts and Key Points:

- Developing country
- Organization
- Property rights
- Excludability
Topic 11: Free Market & Environmental Market Failures

Learning Outcomes:

- Describe the basic characteristics of the free market and the underlying requirements
- Understand the concept of market failure
- Classify environmental resources (good and services) with respect to excludability and depletability
- Describe and provide examples of discussed types of market failure (open access, public goods and free rider issues, negative (and positive) externalities perverse
subsidies).
- Distinguish between market failures with respect to globally-shared resources and globally-shared impacts
- Understand the challenge of monetizing ecosystem services

Definitions:

- Market:
- Market failure:
- Subsidy:

Concepts and Key Points:

- Supply and demand


- Free market versus regulated market
- Invisible hand
- Excludability
- Depletability
- Private good, toll good, public good, global commons & open access
- Externalities (negative and positive)
- Subsidies and perverse subsidies

Group Discussion:

Learning Outcomes:

- Understand the issue that Hardin (1969) describes with “Tragedy of the commons”
- List natural resources that are susceptible to this issue
- Understand possible solutions to this issue

Concepts and Key Points:

- “Tragedy of the commons”


- Property rights