In Search of Sustainability: Energy, the Environment, and Society in Central Europe

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Course Information
Discipline(s): 
Economics
Political Science
Terms offered: 
Spring
Credits: 
3
Language of instruction: 
English
Prerequisites: 

None

Additional student cost: 

Field trip costs, if any, beyond IES subsidy (Bus journey), tba.

Description: 

This course is centered on the concept of sustainability and its various shared implications. Initially, students will be made familiar with the history and the present uses of this concept. In addition the concept of Central Europe, an introduction to the Political System of the European Union and its strategies and policies in the field of sustainability will be provided. Bearing in mind the sustainability perspective, energy, environmental and societal issues and policies in five selected central European countries will be worked on in detail during the term. Due to shared borders, common EU membership and close historical bonds, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia will be examined. Specifically, an introduction to the regional political and economic systems will be given and selected case studies in the energy and environmental fields will be discussed. Equally, the structure of the course aims at putting the different case studies into a comparative perspective. A one-day field trip to the Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros Waterworks (on the border between Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary) and Bratislava will be organized as part of the course.

This course forms part of the IES Abroad Independent Research Program. It can be combined with the RE 499 Online Research Methods Seminar for an additional 1-credit. 

Attendance policy: 

IES Abroad Vienna requires attendance at all class sessions, including field study excursions, internship meetings, scheduled rehearsals, and exams. Attendance will be monitored and unexcused absences will affect the student’s grade via the “Participation” component of each course’s final grade.

Excused Absences

  • Excused absences are permitted only when a student is ill, when class is held on a recognized religious holiday traditionally observed by the particular student, or in the case of a grave incident affecting family members.
  • To be granted an excused absence, the student must write an email to his/her professor in a timely manner stating the reason for the absence (and, if appropriate, how long they expect to be away) with a cc to Center administrative staff. In an emergency, the student may call Student Services or the Front Desk. If the student is unable to send an email (too sick, no computer), he/she may call the Student Assistant at the front desk (01/512 2601-11) who will then write the email described above and send it to said parties as stated above, with a cc to the student.
  • If a student is absent 3 consecutive days or more, he/she will need to obtain a doctor’s note and then submit this to the Registrar’s office.
Learning outcomes: 

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Understand the political and economic systems of the five selected central European countries
  • Gain a detailed and thorough knowledge of this region and its issues in the field of energy and environment
  • Get expertise on the concept of sustainability and its various implications
  • Be able to assess course related policies from a comparative perspective
  • Be able to work out extended case studies on complex topics
  • Form their own opinion on such cases
Method of presentation: 

A combination of methods will be applied, including

  • lectures
  • class discussions of the required readings
  • student presentations of selected case studies
  • field trip

The method of presentation is furthermore based on a team-teaching approach with input from a political systems-based (Pfefferle) and an energy and environmental policy-oriented perspective (Schmidt).

Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Class participation - 10%
  • Oral presentation of a country case study -15%
  • Individually written final research paper on the country case study - 25%
  • Midterm - 25%
  • Final exam - 25%

Oral Presentation of Country Case Study

Will be given during sessions 7 and 9 and will be partly based on students' own research.

Final Research Paper

Topics and research questions should be proposed to the instructors by the 6th session

 

content: 
Session Focus Reading

Session 1: Introduction

to course
, structure,

requirements and topic

Defining Central Europe. Introductory remarks on the concept of Central Europe and issues of environmental security and civil society in Central Europe.
  • Petritsch, p. 131-140
  • Àgh, p. 1-10
  • Kobtzeff, p.113-141
Session 2: Defining Sustainability I This session is designed to make students familiar with the concept of sustainability and its various implications. Starting with the UN-definition: “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Brundtland Commission), other meanings and concepts of sustainability will be discussed in class.
  • Carson, p. 23-30
  • World Commission on Environment and Development, Arts 1-28 and Arts 60-64
  • Blewitt, p. 1-26
Session 3: Defining Sustainability II This session is designed to make students familiar with the concept of sustainability and its various implications.
  • Kates, p. 8–21
  • Blewitt, p. 75-97
Session 4: Introduction to the Political System of the European Union



 
This session focuses on a brief introduction to the Political System of the European Union. Starting with an historic overview of the project of European integration up to date, the main institutions (European Council, Council of Ministers, European Commission, European Parliament) of the European policy-making process will be introduced.
  • Hix/Hoyland, p. 27-69 and 72-109
Session 5: The European Union and Sustainability: Strategies and Policies

The European Union´s (renewed) Strategy for Sustainable Development and its Review in

2009 is going to be analyzed and discussed.

Midterm Exam

  • Council of the European Union (2006), p. 2-21
  • European Commission (2009), p. 2-11
Session 6: Group formation and selection of case studies The basic principles of EU Environmental and Energy Policy will be examined, with an emphasis on the “new” member states.
  • Carmin et. al, p. 3-26
  • Pavlinek et.al, p. 237-265
  • Jefferson, p. 571-582
Session 7: Case Studies: Environmental Policies in Central European countries

Guest speaker of the Federal Chancellery and Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management (Lebensministerium) talks on “Climate Change and Austria”.



In the second part of this lecture students shall present a country case study, based on the country assessments of the report “The European Environment – State and Outlook Report 2010”, as well as on own research. A detailed guideline for the presentation as well as specific literature will be provided.

  • None

Session 8: Field Trip to Bratislava and Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros Waterworks

Field Trip: Bratislava and Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros Waterworks
  • None
Session 9: Case Studies: Energy Policies in Central European countries

Students shall present a country case study, based on the country assessments of the report “The European Environment – State and Outlook Report 2010”, as well as on own research. A detailed guideline for the presentation as well as specific literature will be provided.

  • None
Session 10: Summary of the case studies

Discussion of alternative models of sustainability

Final Exam

  • Blewitt, p. 149-172

 

Required readings: 
  • Àgh, Attila (1998). The Politics of Central Europe. Sage Publications, London.
  • Blewitt, John (2008). Understanding Sustainable Development. Earthscan. London.
  • Carmin, Joann/VanDeVeer, Stacy D. (2005). Enlarging EU Environments: Central and Eastern
  • Europe from Transition to Accession. In: Carmin, Joann/VanDeVeer, Stacy D. (eds.). EU Enlargement and the Environment: Institutional Change and Environmental Policy in Central and Eastern Europe. VERLAG & ERSCHEINUNGSORT FEHLEN. p. 3-26
  • Carson, Rachel (2002). The Obligation to Ensure. In: Silent Sprint. Mariner Books, New York, p. 23-30
  • Council of the European Union (2006). Renewed EU Sustainable Development Strategy. Available on: http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/06/st10/st10917.en06.pdf
  • European Environment Agency (2010). The European Environment – state and outlook 2010. Available on: http://www.eea.europa.eu/soer/countries#c11=CommonalityReport c11=DiversityReport&c11= FlexibilityReport&c12=all&c5=&b_start=0
  • European Commission (2009). Mainstreaming sustainable development into EU policies: 2009 Review of the European Union Strategy for Sustainable Development. Available on: http://eur- lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2009:0400:FIN:en:PDF
  • Federal Chancellery and Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management (2007). The First National Report on Implementing the EU Strategy for Sustainable Development. Available on: http://umwelt.lebensministerium.at/filemanager/download/23377/
  • Hix, Simon, Høyland, Bjørn (2011). The Political System of the European Union. 3rd edition. Palgrave Macmillan, ERSCHEINUNGSORT FEHLT
  • Kates, Robert, Parris, Thomas and Leiserowitz, Anthony (2005). What is Sustainable Development? In: Environment 47(3), p. 8–21
  • Kobtzeff, Oleg (2000). Environmental Security and Civil Society. In: Gardner, Hall (ed.). Central and Southeastern Europe in Transition. Perspectives on Success and Failure Since 1989. Praeger, Westport/London, p. 113-149
  • Pavlinek, Peter/Pickles, John (2005). Environmental Pasts/Environmental Futures in Post-Socialist Europe. In: Carmin, Joann/VanDeVeer, Stacy D. (eds.). EU Enlargement and the Environment: Institutional Change and Environmental Policy in Central and Eastern Europe. VERLAG & ERSCHEINUNGSORT FEHLEN, p. 237-265
  • Petritsch, Wolfgang (2008). Culture in Central Europe: Possibilities and Preconditions. In: The Analyst - Central and Eastern European Review English Edition issue: 01 / 2008, pages: 131-140
  • World Commission on Environment and Development (1987). Our Common Future, Chapter 2: Towards Sustainable Development. United Nations General Assembly (http://www.un- documents.net/ocf-02.htm#I)(Brundtland-Report)
Other Resources: 

Important Web Sources