Sustainable Development

Module Leader:
Attila Katona
2018-2019 Autumn
Immersion 1
Social Sciences

Sustainable development (SD) is arguably the most urgent challenge facing humanity. The fundamental question is: How can the world continue to develop in a way that is socially resilient and environmentally sustainable? The course provides a broad overview of the concept of sustainable development: its rationale, theory, ethics, evolution, critique, and use in contemporary policy. Students will examine concerns related to population, consumption, pollution, resource use, impacts, and planetary boundaries from a wide range of perspectives to illustrate that both the problems and solutions depend on points of view and the frame of reference. We will consider SD as a problem of transition in complex social systems, and get familiar with sustainability indicators, visions, goals and strategies with an explicit link to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations (SDGs). Conceptual points will be illustrated with practical examples, interactive games, micro-exercises and an overarching assignment in which students have to apply the SDGs framework in real-life contexts. The course is especially useful for students interested in global issues, development studies, environmental management, policy, international relations, and economics.
Through the course, students are expected to:
Get familiar with the basics of SD (challenges, solutions, science, and policy),
Connect SD to their own field of interest through systems thinking,
Understand the context of global Sustainable Development Goals and transitions,
Familiarize themselves with a range of social science, analytical and policy tools related to SD, and
Learn to apply the UN SDGs framework in real-life context

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