Sustainability: Challenges and Responses

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Course Information
Environmental Studies
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 

One prior course in one or more of the following disciplines: Political Science, Social Science, History, Environmental Sciences.


Sustainability is widely regarded as one of the key challenges facing humanity in the new millennium. Having achieved great success in attaining prosperity for a large proportion of mankind through industrial development, the consequences of unfettered growth have begun to catch up with us. A diverse array of crises has begun to make itself felt, threatening many of the environmental and social support systems we take for granted.

The course comprises four sections. In the first section (Sessions 1 to 3), we introduce some key concepts that we will use along the whole course. In the second section (sessions 4 to 6), some methodologies are discussed after presenting some real experiences implemented elsewhere and the final project to be implemented by students in groups during this course. In the third section (Sessions 7 to 11) we will examine some of the tremendous challenges that we face, all around the globe: we will identify key problem areas, recognize their consequences, and attempt to understand the reasons for their persistence. In the last section (Sessions 13 to 24), we will discuss various responses born at different levels involving policies, technologies and social initiatives that may help us change course to a more promising and fulfilling future.

The course includes an extra full-day session of a course-related trip to be held on a FRIDAY with mandatory attendance.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them" - Albert Einstein

This course forms part of the IES Abroad Independent Research Program. It can be combined with the Introduction to Research Module for an additional 1-credit.