(ENVT020) Introduction to Environmental Sustainability

 

Glass globe held in a hand

Overview

Course start date: Monday 20th July 2020
Early Bird rate only £135.00: BOOK NOW

Lecturer(s): Dr John Merefield
Course Code: ENVT020
Level: Non-accredited, non-credit bearing
Assessments/Exams: None. Throughout the course you will be given ideas and questions to respond to in the online discussion area. Participation in online discussion is encouraged, but not compulsory.
Duration: 10 weeks
Dates: Monday 20th July 2020 – Friday 25th September 2020
Estimated Student Study Time: 2 – 5 hours per week are recommended, but time spent is flexible and at your discretion.
Fee: £150.00
Pre-Requisites: No academic qualifications or experience of environmental issues are required, only an enthusiasm for the subject.
Delivery: Online Distance Learning
Late Entrants: If this course is not full by the start date then late entrants will be accepted for up to two weeks after the start of the course. As a late entrant you can choose to catch up on the material you have missed or you can skip the missed weeks and concentrate on the material at the point where you join the course, but unfortunately we cannot offer fee reductions or course extensions for late entrants.

Please note: All courses are subject to sufficient numbers of students registering before they are confirmed as running. Therefore, after booking your place you are advised not to purchase any texts until you have received confirmation that the course is running.

This course was previously taught by Dr John Merefield when it was offered by the University of Exeter*. If you studied it with the University of Exeter* you might not wish to study it again with Learn for Pleasure as although we have revised and updated our courses where necessary, it will likely be substantively the same.

Summary

This course will introduce you to the concept and meaning of sustainable development and the contemporary environmental and socio-economic issues that surround it.

Using social science perspectives and case studies from a variety of contexts and settings we will examine sustainability on a global scale, in relation to both developed and developing countries; and at the local level using South West England as an example. We will look at contemporary concerns about energy production, agriculture, rural development, transport, tourism and technology thereby accommodating the range of interest of our student group.

 

Syllabus Plan

Week One
Concepts, Definitions and Meanings

Week Two
Sustainable Development 1: Towards Global Sustainability

Week Three
Sustainable Development 1: Developed and Developing Countries

Week Four
Sustainable Development 2: Planning and Policy – Local Strategies

Week Five
Sustainable Development 2: Planning and Policy – Energy

Week Six
Sustainable Development 2: Planning and Policy – Agriculture, Rural Development and Genetically Modified Crops

Week Seven
Sustainable Development 2: Planning and Policy – Urbanisation and Transport

Week Eight
Sustainable Development 2: Planning and Policy – Tourism

Week Nine
Sustainable Development 2: Planning and Policy – Waste and Recycling

Week Ten
Business, Technology and Sustainability

 

Course Content in Depth

Week One
Concepts, Definitions and Meanings

Because of the somewhat ambiguous nature of the concept, Sustainability can mean different things to different people, and organisations are no exception to this. So we will start this Course by establishing our concept of Sustainability and in which we will adopt the principle in its widest ecological sense.

Week Two
Sustainable Development 1: Towards Global Sustainability

Next, having explored some of the issues surrounding the meaning of sustainable development we will turn, in this Unit, to focus on how the concept has been received globally and ask whether it can ever properly be implemented as a global phenomenon.

Week Three
Sustainable Development 1: Developed and Developing Countries

This week we are going to continue to highlight the theme of Unit 2 by focusing on the key differences that sustainable development could mean, depending on whether you are classed as a developed country (those with a high GDP per capita) or a developing country.

Week Four
Sustainable Development 2: Planning and Policy – Local Strategies

In contrast to earlier units, we have here moved from concerns at the macro level to an understanding of what sustainable development could mean at a local or micro level. This section is essentially about policy implementation and focusing on Local Agenda 21 as a policy document.

Week Five
Sustainable Development 2: Planning and Policy – Energy

This is our first Unit that focuses on sustainable development in specific contexts. In this section we are going to concentrate on what sustainability means in the context of energy. Many parallels are drawn to units already viewed, in particular, climate change, as it is thought to be so inextricably linked to the type of energy we use. You will also find more detail on the differences between rich and poor countries as there is a recognisable disparity between these countries and the amount of energy they produce and consume.

Week Six
Sustainable Development 2: Planning and Policy – Agriculture, Rural Development and Genetically Modified Crops

In this week we examine sustainability and agriculture. We are going to focus on the crucial area of food production and how it can be achieved in sustainable ways. We will also home in on the arguments for and against the use of alternatives in the form of genetic modification of crops.

Week Seven
Sustainable Development 2: Planning and Policy – Urbanisation and Transport

In this Unit we are going to aim our understanding of sustainable development towards the context of urbanisation and transport. According to the British Charity, ‘Population Concern’ over half of the world’s population live in megacities of over 10 million people. The growth of urban areas is particularly important in the Developing World where between 20-30 million people are moving to towns and cities each year. Continuing urbanisation, combined with a lack of resources and expertise, and weak governance, are increasing environmental and social problems in urban areas.

Week Eight
Sustainable Development 2: Planning and Policy – Tourism

Tourism is one of the world’s largest industries and one of its fastest growing economic sectors. It has a multitude of impacts, both positive and negative, on people’s lives and on the environment, and especially in an area like South West England. So here we will define sustainable tourism, provide you with some facts and figures and show what is being done in the South West of the United Kingdom as a case study.

Week Nine
Sustainable Development 2: Planning and Policy – Waste and Recycling

This Unit focuses on another area of particular concern for urban areas and one which includes all of us because we all produce it – that of waste. In fact, in England and Wales the combination of industry, commerce and household waste amounts to over 100 million tonnes annually and this figure is rising rapidly. But we will focus on how this is being tackled and what measures are being proposed and implemented to make the problem of waste more sustainable.

Week Ten
Business, Technology and Sustainability

Finally, as a major wealth generator in economies around the globe, it is perhaps not surprising that big business is often perceived as playing a more dominant role in economic development and is less commonly associated with issues of environmental protection. This, however, is not the view of all. Indeed, many would argue that current business operations do have a more ‘cyclical’ component to them and that (despite what motivates industry) negative environmental impacts are being much reduced. We will see here that many companies have come under great pressure to manage and deliver improved environmental performance, both to comply with more stringent legislation set by governments and because we, the customer, now require it.