Courses

General Courses

Perspectives on Sustainable Development

This course aims at providing an overview of different perspectives on sustainable development in order to illustrate the complexity of sustainability challenges and of finding and implementing solutions for them. The course starts by elaborating on the concepts and various definitions of sustainable development, including the recently defined sustainable development goals. We then explore in more detail some of the many different perspectives that can be taken on sustainable development. We focus on the system perspective, personal perspective, ethical and value perspective, economics perspective, governance perspective, innovation perspective, and interdisciplinary perspective.

In the assignments, we take a closer look at 1) the interdisciplinary perspective by analyzing the contributions of different disciplines to specific sustainability topics, 2) the worldviews perspective by analyzing the different perceptions of a specific sustainability problem and its solutions, and 3) the personal perspective by reflecting on students’ own ambitions in integrating sustainability in their careers.

Academic skills: academic writing, effective presentations, team work.

This course is the entry requirement for:
Transdisciplinary Case Study (GEO4-2302)
Master’s Thesis SD (GEO4-2321)

Systems thinking, Scenarios & Indicators for SD

The course is organized around four hands-on assignments and one exam. We will start with the analysis of dynamic systems and introduce the concepts behind this methodological approach through the use of mathematical models in the modelling environment of Stella. Then we will use the spreadsheet Microsoft Excel to develop scenarios to assess how we can sustainably feed a growing population. After that, students work with the Netlogo software to learn about agent-based modelling, that is, understand the effects of individual behavioural choices in collective outcomes. The exam will cover the theoretical concepts discussed during the lectures, guest-lectures, assigned readings and assignments. Throughout the course, students work on a group research project that involves a scientific analysis of a self-selected sustainability issue via different sustainable development indicators, such as: Environmental Performance Index, Human Development Index, Ecological Footprint, Happy Planet Index, etc. The results of the research assignment are presented (orally and in writing) in the last week of the course.

The course is a sequel to the course SUSD-Perspectives on Sustainable Development (GEO4-2301) and its content is assumed to be known.

This course is an entry requirement for: Master's Thesis SD (GEO4-2321).

Research Design

This course gives you an intensive hands-on training in one of the key skills that graduated (research) master students should possess: the ability to design a research project - through developing a research proposal - that is interesting, scientifically sound but at the same time has the potential to contribute to a transformation to a more sustainable society. Setting up such a research project is easier said than done. But throughout this course, you will be provided with theoretical guidance and practical advice. You will become familiar with some good practices and learn how to avoid the most common pitfalls. After completion of this course, you will be better prepared to start a comprehensive research project, such as your master thesis. Moreover, you will be better able to make an informed assessment of research proposed by others.

Academic skills: designing a research project

This course is an entry requirement for:

  • Master’s Thesis SD (GEO4-2321)
  • Research Project ECE (GEO4-2335) (actively participated in GEO4-2314 in order to register for GEO4-2335)

Transdisciplinary Case Study

This course focuses on the integration of insights from different knowledge domains which are necessary to realise sustainable development.

Sustainable development issues are characterised by their multidisciplinary character, and the fact they are not merely an academic exercise but pertain to real-world problems. They show large complexity as a result of mutual interactions between social and biophysical systems. Regular or ‘normal’ scientific approaches tend to focus on more or less disciplinary aspects of the problem in isolation, using an ‘objective’ analytical perspective. On the contrary, it has been argued that sustainable development issues are in need of a ‘Post-Normal Science’ in which there are multiple legitimite perspectives, related to values and world views of individuals or groups, and the full complexity including its uncertainty should be part of the scientific analysis (Functowitz and Ravetz, 1993). The multiplicity of world views also allows for non-scientific stakeholders to enter into the problem analysis and problem solving arena, enabling the addition of tacit knowledge to the formal scientific knowledge. The resulting networks involving public-private partnerships and the collaboration with community organisations have given rise to new forms of governance. Such participation of multiple stakeholders and scientific specialists involved in sustainability research and problem solving, necessitates forms of integration of the multidisciplinary knowledge being produced. Such research is often termed transdisciplinary. Tress et al. (2005) provide an overview of definitions of integrative research concepts (disciplinary, multidisciplinary, participatory, interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary).

The notions on integration of the basic disciplines of ecology, economy and sociology, as well as the influence of different world views, have been subject of the first two common Sustainable Development master courses Perspectives on Sustainable Development (GEO4-2301) and Sustainability Modelling and indicators/Systems thinking, Scenarios & Indicators for SD (GEO4-2331).

In this course students will enter the transdisciplinary arena. They will be confronted with a real-world problem of a real-world client. The students will work in multidisciplinary groups to analyse the client’s problem. They will analyse the multidisciplinary problem from their own specific background, and integrate their scientific knowledge with that of other students, and with the tacit knowledge of stakeholders. Information on the case study and client will be provided during the introductory lectures of the course.

Master's thesis Sustainable Development

Extensive and important information on the procedure (attending presentations, approval, supervision, handing in, presenting, assessment etc.) can be found in the Master’s thesis course manual.The Master’s thesis is the final research project in which the student will show that he/she is able to conduct independent research, in which new methods are developed and/or applied or existing methods are applied to a new problem. The research should be relevant from both a scientific point of view (it should expand the body of scientific knowledge) and a societal point of view (it should produce knowledge that can contribute to a better understanding or the solution of a problem). Learning-by-doing is part of the project. The student is encouraged to attend conferences and Copernicus-seminars etc. that are relevant or related to the research work.
The student proves his specialist knowledge of an issue related to his track and/or one of the other environmental themes of the research programme of the Copernicus Institute or International Development Studies and his mastering of the relevant research methods. The Master’s thesis is the optimal preparation for a further research career as PhD-student at a university or as a research-worker in a company, research institute or other organisation. The thesis can be based on the wide variety of research methods that are taught in the various courses of the Master’s programme. Whereas the work is generally not expected to be experimental in character, it should not be ruled out that experimental work may be part of the research project.

The research may be carried out at Dutch or foreign university departments, but also (partly) at research institutes, consultancy firms, or government agency, etc. (provided that the work has an acknowledged scientific status).

Note
The students need to motivate their choice for either a 30 EC or 45 EC thesis (GEO4-2321 whether or not in combination with GEO4-2322) and this motivation needs to be approved by the supervisor.

Entry requirements:
At least 60 EC passed within the programme, including:

  • Perspectives on SD (GEO4-2301)
  • Systems thinking, Scenarios & Indicators for SD (GEO4-2331)
  • Research Design (GEO4-2314)

And:

  • at least two track-specific courses of which 1 methods course (at least 15 EC in total). These are specified per track:

For track E&M:

  • Tools for E&M Analysis (GEO4-2326)

And 1 out of 3:

  • Energy Supply Technologies (GEO4-2312)
  • Energy & Materials Efficiency (GEO4-2324)
  • Policies for E&M Transitions (GEO4-2311)

For track ECE:

  • Environmental Systems Analysis (GEO4-2303), and
  • Environmental Change Theories (GEO4-2310)

For track ESG:

  • Research Strategies ESG (GEO4-2304)

And 1 out of 2:

  • Policy Analysis or Foundations of ESG Research (GEO4-2306)
  • Governance theories (GEO4-2332)

For track ID:

  • Advanced M&T Development Studies (GEO4-3518)

And 1 out of 2:

  • Development Themes (GEO4-3510)
  • Development Theories (GEO4-3505)

Students in the SUSD-Joint Programme will need to have passed 60 EC, including one of the mobility tracks.

Track Energy and Materials

Tools for Energy and Materials Analysis (compulsory)

The course will put the developments of the energy and materials system in the context of sustainable development. Focusing on the interaction between the energy and material nexus, it will elaborate on various tools and methods to analyze the energy and material system. Some of the tools are relevant for both materials and energy (costs analysis & learning curves, input/output analysis, decomposition analysis, life cycle analysis), others will be more focused on energy (indicators, scenarios, potentials, marginal abatement cost curves).

Next to a series of lectures and tutorials, assignments will be worked on in which the methodological skills acquired in the course will be applied.

Academic skills:

  • Communicative skills (writing, discussions and argumentation).
  • Social and organisational skills (working together, functioning in a team and planning your own work and time).
  • Literature research (finding relevant literature, analysing and using it).
  • Application of (quantitative) tools.

This course is an entry requirement for:
Master's Thesis SD (GEO4-2321)

Energy Supply Technologies (compulsory)

The energy supply system is currently not sustainable. Energy use is to a large extent based on fossil fuels, which have limited reserves and are a key source of greenhouse gas emissions. This course will deepen the knowledge on energy supply systems, including fossil-fired power generation, renewable energy technologies (solar, wind, biomass, hydro), nuclear energy (fission and fusion) and transmission and distribution of electric power.

In the assignment international energy statistics from IEA are used to analyse past trends in electricity generation on a country level. These, together with relevant literature, form the basis for the development of several scenarios which will be assessed and compared.

This course is an entry requirement for: Master’s Thesis SD (GEO4-2321)

Academic skills: data gathering and analysis, writing a paper

Policies for Energy & Materials Transitions (compulsory)

The policy perspective this course is focusing on is concerned with the impact of the energy and material system on issues like climate change, energy security, employment, local air quality and national interests of governments (e.g. regarding national energy and material reserves) and industry.The challenge for policy makers is to develop consistent and well aligned policy instruments that contribute to meeting targets, ambitions and agreements embedded in the policies. The challenge for firms and entrepreneurs is to develop smart strategies in response to these policies. The course aims to offer the tools how to design smart policy instruments that push or pull the energy & material system in the desired direction. Possible topics to be covered are emission trading, renewable energy and energy efficiency policies, the geopolitical dimension of energy resource policy, critical materials policy, circular economy policies.

Academic skills:

  • Communicative skills (writing, presentation, discussions and argumentation);
  • Social and organizational skills (working together, functioning in a team and planning your own work and time);
  • Literature research (analyzing and using literature);
  • Quantitative analysis of policies.

​This course is the entry requirement for: Master's Thesis SD track E&M (GEO4-2321)

Energy and Material Efficiency (compulsory)

Consumption and use of energy and materials is the key driver for the accelerated growth of energy use, and hence the burden placed on the environment. The course is a mix of basic knowledge and learning-by-doing to walk you through the tools used to analyse and understand the factors shaping energy and materials use.

You will learn the basic process and end-uses for energy and materials and learn to understand the drivers for energy use. The course also looks at selected materials to understand the role of material demand on resource and energy use, as well as waste generation, followed by the opportunities to address the impacts through material efficiency, recycling and others. The course takes a systems-perspective to highlight the interrelations (“nexus”) between the drivers in society and demand of energy, resources (and to a lesser extent water). In a small group you will work on a research assignment, most likely as part of the project Sustainable Uithof.

To assess developments, various tools and methodologies that are commonly used will be introduced, including thermodynamic principles, process analysis, gross energy requirements, degree days, indicators, decomposition analysis, cost-benefit analysis, conservation supply curves, environmental Kuznets curve, material flow analysis, and life-cycle analysis.

This course is an entry requirement for:
Master’s Thesis SD (GEO4-2321).

Bio-Based Economy

Biomass is an important feedstock to produce food, fodder, materials and energy. Given the environmental concerns of fossil fuel use for the production of materials and as energy carrier, the use of biomass is expected to strongly increase in the coming decades as a feedstock for the bio-based economy. However, developing the bio-based economy is not straightforward: (1) there are limited amounts of feedstock and potential (environmental and other) impacts of feedstock production and biomass use; (2) there are a large-number of possible applications and end-uses; and (3) the (currently often unfavorable) economics compared to fossil fuels make deployment difficult. The course examines the potential deployment of biomass (for a biobased economy) from a system perspective, from feedstock production until final use. The course takes an interdisciplinary approach thereby looking at the physical, technical, economic, environmental and policy aspects involved on the deployment / transition towards a biobased economy.

Topics that will be treated during the course include:

  • Definition and overview of the historic and current biobased economy in the Netherlands, Europe and the world, including traditional and new uses of biomass for energy and materials;
  • EU and global biomass potentials (current – 2100) and key factors determining this potential (including overall land-use patterns and agricultural productivity);
  • The role of biomass logistic chains (including pretreatment & storage strategies) and international trade;
  • Current and future biochemical and thermochemical conversion routes from various biomass feedstocks to energy carriers and materials and the related types of biorefineries (including integrated bio-refinery concepts);
  • Overview of possible end uses of biomass for energy (electricity; heat; road, aviation and marine transport fuels) and materials (including biobased plastics, bulk and fine chemicals, advanced fibers and building materials etc.);
  • GHG performance of biomass use for energy and materials, including life-cycle chain emissions (including recycling), land-use change effects and temporal effects (carbon debt and parity concepts);
  • Sense and non-sense of cascading and links with the circular economy concept;
  • Other potential environmental benefits and impacts of biomass use for energy and materials;
  • Overview of past and current policy strategies to promote and govern sustainable biomass production and use;
  • Micro-economic perspectives and socio-economic aspects of a biobased economy.

Note
This course is especially recommended for students that want to write their MSc thesis on BBE-related topics.

Academic skills: Writing a (strategy) paper.

Climate Systems and Adaptation

Understanding the climate system (4 weeks)

  • Components of the climate system
  • Climate forcings over different time scales
  • Future climate and climate scenarios
  • Feedbacks: water and carbon

Climate impacts (2 weeks)

  • Rivers
  • Urban Environment
  • Dryland agriculture
  • Coastal zone, including the coastal lowlands

Adaptation Strategies (2 weeks)

  • Uncertainties
  • Resilience and resistance
  • Adaptation strategies
  • Policy options and perspectives

Academic skills: Literature analysis; presenting; writing; evaluation and application of climate adaptation options and strategies

Current and Future Geo-Energy Resources

There is a growing social-economic, geologic and climatologic pressure to change the global energy mix towards more sustainable resources. The present-day and near-future energy supply will still come predominantly from fossil resources, and comes with the associated infrastructure and demand. An energy transition towards more sustainability requires in-depth understanding of the current energy supply and and will have to try to make maximum advantage of the available infrastructure. This course will enable students to obtain a scientific viewpoint on the current (geo-dominated) energy supply chain, infrastructure and demand. In order to help create the transition towards more sustainable solutions, students will discuss the position of present-day geo-energy resources: the historical, (micro-and macro) economical and societal aspects of petroleum science and the new developments within the industry for future exploration of geo-Energy resources (including geothermal energy, shale gas, oil enhanced recovery). It will give a realistic, holistic but baseline understanding of the position of hydrocarbons in our energy mix, essential for a realistic transition towards sustainable resources in the future. Aspects covered include physical requirements and risks for/in finding and producing oil or gas, societal and environmental consequences of petroleum production, and focuses on possible future scenarios and consequences. After the introductory weeks, teaching will be mostly carried out by experts in their field, and give their state-of-the-art on the following subtopics:

Part 1 Past:

  • Geological parameters of conventional petroleum systems (Geological view on the carbon cycle, deposition, reservoir, trap, charge)
  • Studying the subsurface: Looking through time and space.

Part 2 Present:

  • Current exploration and exploitation industry in conventional hydrocarbons
  • Geo-energy resources infrastructure, quantities and macro-economic aspects
  • Environmental impacts and solutions (incl. technological developments and health, safety and environmental management)

Part 3 Future:

  • Mitigation: Using empty reservoirs for storage of CO2 (CCS; chances and risks)
  • Alternatives: geothermal energy

Academic skills:
Next to smaller assignments and practicals, the main assignment of the course requires you will perform in a small team a literature research on a topic related to Geo-energy resources, the process of which you will report in 2 progress reports, and the end result of your research will be presented in a peer reviewed oral presentation. The exercise is constructed such that you maximize the development of essential transferrable skills:

  • Leadership skills: you need to delegate, evaluate and make decisions about directions of your research assignment
  • Team work: the research and presentation exercise requires you work in a team, and integrate individual efforts. Other practicals in this course also are done in teams
  • Written communication: practicals need to be reported on in written reports, 2 progress reports need to be made, all will be returned with feedback which enables you to improve
  • Problem-solving skills: many exercises during the course are case-studies in which you apply the theory just acquired.
  • Verbal communication skills: the end presentation on your research allows you to develop your presentation skills, and will be peer-reviewed to maximize learning opportunities for the entire group
  • Strong work ethics: assignments have strict deadlines
  • Initiative: During the research-presentation assignment, you will initiate your own research
  • Analytical skills: during practicals you will be challenged to use 3 dimensional understanding of the subsurface as well as developments through time (the 4th dimension). You will analyse actual well-log data, seismic profiles, drill core data and 3D subsurface structures.

Environmental Ethics and Sustainable Development

The present-day political and economic systems are not sustainable and we are heading for global environmental disasters (ecocide). The notions ‘sustainability’, ‘development’ and ‘sustainable development’ have gradually entered political and social debates, and scientific and philosophical investigations. It is rooted in concern about environmental degradation of our planet. Philosophical reflection about sustainable development and the human-nature relationship starts with clarifying key concepts of environmental science. Sustainable development should at least encompass three dimensions: (1) the environment (conservation and preservation), (2) economy (growth vs. steady state), and (3) the social structure (equity, welfare). These dimensions form the pillars of sustainable development and will be studied from a philosophical viewpoint.

This course aims at providing philosophical reflection on sustainable development-related issues as part of environmental philosophy. We start with reflection on three kinds of relationships from the perspective of sustainability: humans-humans, humans-animals, and humans-nature. During the course key concepts and methods of environmental philosophy are dealt with. We will explore concepts such as biodiversity and vulnerability, demographic transition and inter- and intragenerational (environmental) justice.

The emphasis of the course is normative deliberation on the environmental crises and sustainable development. What insights can science and environmental philosophy give to sustain life, future generations and a healthy ecosystem of planet Earth?

Maximum 80 students.

Master's thesis Sustainable Development (extension)

Extensive and important information on the procedure (attending presentations, approval, supervision, handing in, presenting, assessment etc.) can be found in the Master’s thesis course manual.
The Master’s thesis is the final research project in which the student will show that he/she is able to conduct independent research, in which new methods are developed and/or applied or existing methods are applied to a new problem. The research should be relevant from both a scientific point of view (it should expand the body of scientific knowledge) and a societal point of view (it should produce knowledge that can contribute to a better understanding or the solution of a problem). Learning-by-doing is part of the project. The student is encouraged to attend conferences and Copernicus-seminars etc. that are relevant or related to the research work.
The student proves his specialist knowledge of an issue related to his track and/or one of the other environmental themes of the research programme of the Copernicus Institute or International Development Studies and his mastering of the relevant research methods. The Master’s thesis is the optimal preparation for a further research career as PhD-student at a university or as a research-worker in a company, research institute or other organisation. The thesis can be based on the wide variety of research methods that are taught in the various courses of the Master’s programme. Whereas the work is generally not expected to be experimental in character, it should not be ruled out that experimental work may be part of the research project.

The research project may be carried out at university departments. All or part of the research may be carried out at a university outside The Netherlands, but also at research institutes, consultancy firms, etc. (provided that the work has an acknowledged scientific status).

Part of the research work can be done as an internship, for instance at a research institute, a company, a consultancy office or government agency.

Note
The students need to motivate their choice for either a 30 EC or 45 EC thesis (GEO4-2321 whether or not in combination with GEO4-2322) and this motivation needs to be approved by the supervisor.

Entry requirements:
At least 60 EC passed within the program, including:

  • Perspectives on SD (GEO4-2301)
  • Systems thinking, Scenarios & Indicators for SD (GEO4-2331)
  • Research Design (GEO4-2314)

And:

  • at least two track-specific courses of which 1 methods course (at least 15 EC in total). These are specified per track:

For track E&M:

  • Tools for E&M Analysis (GEO4-2326)

And 1 out of 3:

  • Energy Supply Technologies (GEO4-2312)
  • Energy & Materials Efficiency (GEO4-2324)
  • Policies for E&M Transitions (GEO4-2311)

For track ECE:

  • Environmental Systems Analysis (GEO4-2303), and
  • Environmental Change Theories (GEO4-2310)

For track ESG:

  • Research Strategies ESG (GEO4-2304)

And 1 out of 2:

  • Policy Analysis or Foundations of ESG Research (GEO4-2306)
  • Governance Theories (GEO4-2332)

For track ID:

  • Advanced M&T Development Studies (GEO4-3518)

And 1 out of 2:

  • Development Themes (GEO4-3510)
  • Development Theories (GEO4-3505)

Students in the SUSD-Joint Programme will need to have passed 60 EC, including one of the mobility tracks.

Track Environmental Change and Ecosystems

Environmental Change Theories (compulsory)

The primary drivers of global environmental change are demographic and economic pressures related to human activity. Area distributions designated to urbanization, agriculture and nature have consequences for processes in the soil, water and atmosphere. Global environmental challenges that arise from these process changes are, for example, climate change, soil and water pollution, (ocean) acidification, nutrient enrichment and habitat fragmentation. These global challenges may in turn alter the dynamics in many aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, in terms of quality (levels of contamination, richness) and functioning (cycling of materials, nutrients, energy flows).
In this way human activities cause deterioration of life-support functions and productivity in ecosystems, and they can cause declines in biological diversity on various scales (regional-global) and levels of ecological organization (species, communities, ecosystems, landscapes).

The course will especially pay attention to five theories related to environmental change (Biodiversity, Catastrophc shifts, Population theory, Climate feedbacks and Risk assessment). The five theories will be illustrated by in depth analysis of five thematic environmental problems: (Eutrophication, Desertification, Nature conservation, Climate adaptation/mitigation, Microplastics). The theories-problems combinations may change from one year to the other.The study focus is directed towards how to develop, adopt and apply strategies counteracting adverse environmental effects and leading to sustainable restoration and conservation of the quality and functioning of ecological systems.

This course is an entry requirement for:
Research Project ECE (GEO4-2335)
Master's thesis SUSD (GEO4-2321)

Academic skills:

  • Reading scientific articles
  • Defining knowledge gaps
  • Write opinion paper
  • Contribute to scientific discussions.

Environmental Systems Analysis (compulsory)

You will learn how to decompose environmental systems into specific components, and learn how to model interactions between these components. We will focus on general principles involved in this systems analysis and we will discuss effective procedures to determine the relative importance of different processes operating within the system. This is imperative to comprehend the effects that man has on ecosystems and landscape structure and functioning.

The course consists of the following parts:

  • Matlab self study;
  • Numerical solution of partial differential equations;
  • Cellular automata;
  • Final assignment.

Academic skills: system analysis, modelling, reading scientific papers

Climate Systems and Adaptation

Understanding the climate system (4 weeks)

  • Components of the climate system
  • Climate forcings over different time scales
  • Future climate and climate scenarios
  • Feedbacks: water and carbon

Climate impacts (2 weeks)

  • Rivers
  • Urban Environment
  • Dryland agriculture
  • Coastal zone, including the coastal lowlands

Adaptation Strategies (2 weeks)

  • Uncertainties
  • Resilience and resistance
  • Adaptation strategies
  • Policy options and perspectives

Academic skills: Literature analysis; presenting; writing; evaluation and application of climate adaptation options and strategies

Environmental Ethics and Sustainable Development

The present-day political and economic systems are not sustainable and we are heading for global environmental disasters (ecocide). The notions ‘sustainability’, ‘development’ and ‘sustainable development’ have gradually entered political and social debates, and scientific and philosophical investigations. It is rooted in concern about environmental degradation of our planet. Philosophical reflection about sustainable development and the human-nature relationship starts with clarifying key concepts of environmental science. Sustainable development should at least encompass three dimensions: (1) the environment (conservation and preservation), (2) economy (growth vs. steady state), and (3) the social structure (equity, welfare). These dimensions form the pillars of sustainable development and will be studied from a philosophical viewpoint.

This course aims at providing philosophical reflection on sustainable development-related issues as part of environmental philosophy. We start with reflection on three kinds of relationships from the perspective of sustainability: humans-humans, humans-animals, and humans-nature. During the course key concepts and methods of environmental philosophy are dealt with. We will explore concepts such as biodiversity and vulnerability, demographic transition and inter- and intragenerational (environmental) justice.

The emphasis of the course is normative deliberation on the environmental crises and sustainable development. What insights can science and environmental philosophy give to sustain life, future generations and a healthy ecosystem of planet Earth?

Maximum 80 students.

Master's thesis Sustainable Development (extension)

Extensive and important information on the procedure (attending presentations, approval, supervision, handing in, presenting, assessment etc.) can be found in the Master’s thesis course manual.
The Master’s thesis is the final research project in which the student will show that he/she is able to conduct independent research, in which new methods are developed and/or applied or existing methods are applied to a new problem. The research should be relevant from both a scientific point of view (it should expand the body of scientific knowledge) and a societal point of view (it should produce knowledge that can contribute to a better understanding or the solution of a problem). Learning-by-doing is part of the project. The student is encouraged to attend conferences and Copernicus-seminars etc. that are relevant or related to the research work.
The student proves his specialist knowledge of an issue related to his track and/or one of the other environmental themes of the research programme of the Copernicus Institute or International Development Studies and his mastering of the relevant research methods. The Master’s thesis is the optimal preparation for a further research career as PhD-student at a university or as a research-worker in a company, research institute or other organisation. The thesis can be based on the wide variety of research methods that are taught in the various courses of the Master’s programme. Whereas the work is generally not expected to be experimental in character, it should not be ruled out that experimental work may be part of the research project.

The research project may be carried out at university departments. All or part of the research may be carried out at a university outside The Netherlands, but also at research institutes, consultancy firms, etc. (provided that the work has an acknowledged scientific status).

Part of the research work can be done as an internship, for instance at a research institute, a company, a consultancy office or government agency.

Note
The students need to motivate their choice for either a 30 EC or 45 EC thesis (GEO4-2321 whether or not in combination with GEO4-2322) and this motivation needs to be approved by the supervisor.

Entry requirements:
At least 60 EC passed within the program, including:

  • Perspectives on SD (GEO4-2301)
  • Systems thinking, Scenarios & Indicators for SD (GEO4-2331)
  • Research Design (GEO4-2314)

And:

  • at least two track-specific courses of which 1 methods course (at least 15 EC in total). These are specified per track:

For track E&M:

  • Tools for E&M Analysis (GEO4-2326)

And 1 out of 3:

  • Energy Supply Technologies (GEO4-2312)
  • Energy & Materials Efficiency (GEO4-2324)
  • Policies for E&M Transitions (GEO4-2311)

For track ECE:

  • Environmental Systems Analysis (GEO4-2303), and
  • Environmental Change Theories (GEO4-2310)

For track ESG:

  • Research Strategies ESG (GEO4-2304)

And 1 out of 2:

  • Policy Analysis or Foundations of ESG Research (GEO4-2306)
  • Governance Theories (GEO4-2332)

For track ID:

  • Advanced M&T Development Studies (GEO4-3518)

And 1 out of 2:

  • Development Themes (GEO4-3510)
  • Development Theories (GEO4-3505)

Students in the SUSD-Joint Programme will need to have passed 60 EC, including one of the mobility tracks.

Research Project Environmental Change and Ecosystems (compulsory)

This course aims to provide a training in organizing and executing a research project. In the next academic year, the student should write a Master Thesis. All elements of the Master thesis project are practiced in this course. Moreover, the individual character of this course allows the students to strengthen their inner motivation and pursue their specific interest in particular aspect of global change and ecosystem functioning. The research master in Sustainable Development is to educate students in undertaking professional research. This course is directly in line with this aim.

As noted before, this course is mostly organized on an individual basis; however, the set-up of this course aims to let students learn through shared experiences as well. A series of peer meetings has been scheduled to achieve this aim. The success of these peer group meetings, however, depends fully on the amount of effort put in by the peer group members. You therefore have a large responsibility for the organization and content of these peer group meetings. The course coordinator can be consulted with regard to the organization and planning of the peer group meetings.

Academic skills:

  • Design and execution of research
  • Analytical skills needed for data interpretation
  • Presentation of research plans and findings
  • Provide feedback to fellow students.

Track Earth System Governance

Foundations of Earth System Governance Research (compulsory)

The MSc Sustainable Development consists of four tracks, one of which is Earth System Governance. The course Foundations of ESG Research introduces into this track in a conceptually, theoretically and empirically challenging way. Governance is the process of collectively steering societal actors towards desirable goals. Governments are important part of governance, yet other actors (environmental activists, cities, youth movements, science associations, et cetera) all play important roles as well. The course will cover all levels of governance, from the local level of village politics to the top level of decisions of the United Nations Organization or the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. However, all our discussions will follow a planetary perspective, as also local action needs to be embedded in a global perspective and be cognizant of global interdependencies and interconnections. This is what we call ‘earth system’ governance.

The course is organized in four blocks of roughly two weeks each:

  1. Setting the stage: Key concepts (for example, the ‘Anthropocene’, ‘planetary boundaries’ or ‘resilience’) in earth system governance research are introduced and critically discussed, as well as the role of science and the role of students in society;
  2. Theories: Several of the major theories in social science are discussed, including institutionalism, policy analysis, critical approaches, and constructivism;
  3. Actors: Central actors of governance will be introduced and their role discussed, including civil society, firms, and international organizations;

Issues: We introduce six major empirical research fields of the Environmental Governance group at the Copernicus Institute. In particular, we discuss water governance, climate governance, urban governance, regional governance of socio-ecological systems, governance of sustainable economies, and global governance. Each of these fields will be presented by a leading representative from our group, providing students the opportunity to specialise in more depth in one area, also with a view to possible topics for their later MSc thesis.
This course is an entry requirement for:

  • Analysing Governance Practices (GEO4-2328) (students must have actively participated in Foundations of ESG Research in order to take this course);
  • Research Strategies ESG (GEO4-2304) (students must have actively participated in Foundations of ESG Research in order to take this course)
  • International Governance for SD (GEO4-2305) (students must have actively participated in Foundations of ESG Research in order to take this course)
  • Master’s thesis SUSD (GEO4-2321) (students must have passed Foundations of ESG Research in order to take this course).

Governance Theories (compulsory)

During the first half of the course, students will be introduced to basic theories in social science, specific theoretical approaches to the study of governance for sustainable development, and a number of recurrent themes in the ongoing debates about governance for sustainable development. This part of the course will be assessed by means of an exam. During the second half of the course, students will work on a paper in which they will apply several theoretical approaches of their choosing to a theme. The purpose of this paper is to compare the selected approaches, and thus acquire a more in-depth knowledge of these.

Students must have actively participated in this course in order to take Analysing Governance Practices (GEO4-2328) and Research Methods ESG (GEO4-2304).

Academic skills: Theories; Academic debate; Academic writing

This course is an entry requirement for:
Master's thesis SUSD (GEO4-2321)
Students must have actively participated in this course in order to take Analysing Governance Practices (GEO4-2328), International Governance for SD (GEO4-2305) and Research Strategies ESG (GEO4-2304).

Research Strategies ESG (compulsory)

The objective of this course is to analyse and evaluate environmental governance as well as policy processes and outcomes. In order to achieve this objective, students will be offered a brief introduction to:

  1. Impact assessment
  2. Cost benefit analysis
  3. Stakeholder analysis & network analysis
  4. Discourse network analysis
  5. Case study analysis
  6. Qualitative interpretive analysis (nvivo)
  7. Institutional analysis
  8. Experimental analysis

Students will then get the chance to select a sub-set of four out of these eight approaches to scientific analysis, that they will familiarize themselves with in more detail.

Academic skills: research methods, academic writing

This course is the entry requirement for (if applicable and not mentioned above): Master’s Thesis (GEO4-2321)

Analysing Governance Practices

The central objective of this course is to train students in applying skills to analyse governance practices (e.g. public and private policies, projects, programs, initiatives, etc.) aimed at promoting sustainable development in the following fields:

  • Water
  • Climate and energy
  • Biodiversity
  • Sustainable Production and Consumption
  • Urban Development.

To that purpose they will apply some of the theoretical and methodological skills, gained in classes preceding this course.

In small groups, students will work on a problem description that regards a specific policy application field.

Using (various) theoretical perspectives students will work towards the formulation of an explanatory model to be used in research or ‘policy advice’ aimed at the putting in motion of societal transformation processes towards more sustainable outcomes.

Building blocks are the following:

  • in a small group, students choose a specific example of a governance practice
  • they conduct a review of the available scientific literature on this application field
  • they make a proper description of the governance practice, based on literature and some interviews;
  • they compare the framing and the evidence found in scientific literature with what is done by governing actors in practice
  • and they finally translate this either into an overview of research implications or an evidence-based policy advice.

After a series of introductory lectures, students will choose one of these four issue fields. They will work in small groups (3-4) following a set of clear steps, presenting it to each other and working towards a group paper.

Academic skills: Critical analysis of academic research; constructing explanatory models; academic presentation

International Governance for Sustainable Development

This course addresses the institutional and normative aspects of international governance for sustainable development. It provides an overview of the key concepts and approaches related to the subject. Attention will be paid to the governance capacities of UN organizations in realizing the SDGs and the effectiveness and legitimacy of international agreements and private sector partnerships. Guest-lecturers will discuss actual research issues.

Governance and Change Management for Sustainability

Sustainability has appeared as an alternative to development models prioritising economic activities at the expense of environmental and social issues. Sustainability aims to produce a dynamic balance among economic, environmental and social aspects, and the time dimension. During the past twenty years, business actors have been engaging with efforts to foster sustainability: at the level of the firm; and the level of cooperation among firms and other societal actors
particularly in the form of private governance institutions (such as standards and certification schemes), with varying levels of success.

The course aims to give students the skills and knowledge to engage with governance and change management for sustainability at two levels: (a) the level of institutionalised cooperation among firms and/or other actors, such as civil society organisations (private governance); and (b) the level of the firm including the perspective of individuals, groups, and the organisation, as well as their respective attitudes. The course content is designed to address these two levels and reflect on the broad array of scholarship on understanding, assessing and governing change within and among firms and their organisations.

This course is an entry requirement for: Master’s Thesis (GEO4-2606) and Consultancy Project SBI (GEO4-2605).

Water, Governance and Law

Governance and legal aspects will be discussed, taken the international, European and Dutch levels into account (multi-level governance). Normative, institutional and instrumental (including economic instruments) aspects of water management are part of the course, just as the relation with land use planning, environmental and nature conservation law.The relationship between several stakeholders (governments and private parties) will be discussed, and also the way they can be involved (public participation, private responsibilities and private and public enforcement).Typical water management topics like flood protection, waste water treatment, drinking water supply, fresh water supply, river basin management, urban water and urban developments are a major part of the course.During the course there will be attention for specific skills that are needed to deal with legal research and practice.

Academic skills: Academic writing, cooperation, discussion, reading literature, working interdisciplinary

Innovation Systems and Processes

This course will equip students with the necessary knowledge to make informed decisions about which theory to choose in order to tackle different kinds of innovation problems. We will systematically present and use the 10 most important approaches in innovation studies. In this course:

  • students will become acquainted with the classic readings in economic, institutional, management and social science perspectives on technological change (the canon of innovation literature)
  • students will learn to compare different theories in terms of their explanatory power and the kind of innovation problems a theory is able to tackle;
  • students will learn how a careful choice of theory improves the quality of an innovation analysis.

The course provides an important preparation for performing independent research on innovation questions in the second year of IS.

This course is an entry requirement for:

  • Master’s Thesis IS (GEO4-2239X)
  • Consultancy Project IS (GEO4-2252)

Academic skills: Critical reading, argumentation, academic writing

Environmental Ethics and Sustainable Development

The present-day political and economic systems are not sustainable and we are heading for global environmental disasters (ecocide). The notions ‘sustainability’, ‘development’ and ‘sustainable development’ have gradually entered political and social debates, and scientific and philosophical investigations. It is rooted in concern about environmental degradation of our planet. Philosophical reflection about sustainable development and the human-nature relationship starts with clarifying key concepts of environmental science. Sustainable development should at least encompass three dimensions: (1) the environment (conservation and preservation), (2) economy (growth vs. steady state), and (3) the social structure (equity, welfare). These dimensions form the pillars of sustainable development and will be studied from a philosophical viewpoint.

This course aims at providing philosophical reflection on sustainable development-related issues as part of environmental philosophy. We start with reflection on three kinds of relationships from the perspective of sustainability: humans-humans, humans-animals, and humans-nature. During the course key concepts and methods of environmental philosophy are dealt with. We will explore concepts such as biodiversity and vulnerability, demographic transition and inter- and intragenerational (environmental) justice.

The emphasis of the course is normative deliberation on the environmental crises and sustainable development. What insights can science and environmental philosophy give to sustain life, future generations and a healthy ecosystem of planet Earth?

Maximum 80 students.

Advanced Urban Geography: understanding temporal and spatial dynamics in cities

Due to strong individualization processes urbanized societies show increasing dynamics in and fragmentation of patterns of activities, mobilities and migration. This may have significant effects on the performance of public places, neighborhoods, cities and urban systems. Social networks and patterns of activities and movements will encompass larger territories, and this can diminish the relative importance of neighborhoods as the relevant spaces of integration, to the benefit of other, more temporary situations in which people find themselves. In combination with the spatial dispersion of people, such urban functions as living, working, shopping, and leisure pursuits will disperse and regroup in new, more specialized spatial clusters. This trend toward spatial fragmentation (‘splintering urbanism’) is observed in affluent as well as in poor residential areas, at business estates and in office parks, in ‘airport cities’, in cultural districts, and at shopping malls. In this course these transformation processes in urbanized societies will be studied from two perspectives. First, the daily life perspective which emphasizes the description and explanation of the progression of the daily paths through time and space as people participate in activities at home or elsewhere. Implications for meanings and development of flows and places are also discussed. Second, the life course perspective which deals especially with the description and explanation of changes in the domains of ‘work’, ‘home-making’ and ‘leisure’ but also with the links to the settling and departing of the households of residents in neighborhoods and cities at different stages of their life course. Central to this course is to develop a better understanding of the dynamics in and meanings of physical spatio-temporal contexts for the urban transformation processes. These contexts refer to the built environment, the presence of people, mobile objects and natural conditions. In this course various contextual and situational approaches in urban geography will be presented. The implications for spatial planning and empirical research will also be discussed.

Sustainable Entrepreneurship (for non-U.S.E. students)

This course is for non-U.S.E. students only: Elective for the Masters in Innovation Sciences, Sustainable Development, Sustainable Business and Innovation and Energy Science and required for the university wide Sustainable Entrepreneurship & Innovation track. Mandatory for the Climate-KIC MSc. Label Elective for other Masters (except Economics).

Contents
Entrepreneurship focuses on identifying new opportunities for creating value for customers or users and commercially developing those opportunities to establish a profitable business.
Sustainable entrepreneurship combines the traditional focus of entrepreneurship with an emphasis on opportunities to alleviate social or environmental conditions. Sustainable entrepreneurship is about entrepreneurs striving simultaneously for profit and for improving local and global environmental and social conditions.

This course is addressed to students interested in exploring the challenges of sustainable entrepreneurship. The course will provide academic and practical insights into the entrepreneurial process and in particular:
• The opportunities and challenges of developing a new venture, given characteristics of the market and the institutional context;
• The challenges of aligning profits with social and environmental value;

The overall objective of this course is to make the students aware of the opportunities offered by an entrepreneurial career, the skills needed for and academic knowledge about entrepreneurial processes, in the context of sustainability. The course emphasizes the business & management perspectives to entrepreneurship.

Format
This course is an interactive and participatory course that teaches students the key concepts from theory to practice. It adopts a mix of lectures, tutorial sessions, workshops and activities related to the business model assignment. Students are expected to attend and participate in all lectures and take part in all tutorial sessions. The students will be allocated into groups (4 or 5 students) for the business model assignment. The aim is to establish a mix of students from various disciplines (this course coincides with USEMSE for master students Economics).

The elements that constitute the final grade are the following:

Business Model Assignment (group work):
Groups will either develop a business model from scratch, or introduce developed ideas to the market. This will be achieved in several steps throughout the course period. The evaluation will be based on the quality of the final work, the presentation and the process towards the final document(s).

Business Case Assignment (group work):
Students will be presented with a case study and are required to answer questions that relate to the case. The questions focus on marketing and finance applied to sustainable entrepreneurship. The evaluation will be based on a concise report in which the answers are motivated.

Written Exam (individual work):
There will be a midterm exam that consists of open-ended questions. The questions are based on the key course concepts that are taught and discussed during the course.

Assessment method
• Written midterm exam with open-ended questions (30%, individual)
• Evaluation of business case assignment (30%, group)
• Evaluation of business model assignment (40%). Group grade, with a group component (20%) and an individual component (20%).

In case online access is required for this course and you are not in the position to buy the access code, you are advised to contact the course coordinator for an alternative solution. Please note that access codes are not re-usable meaning that codes from second hand books do not work, as well as access codes from books with a different ISBN number. Separate or spare codes are usually not available.

Knowledge management

Knowledge management is about organizing, development, and use of knowledge in such a way that it directly contributes to the competitive edge of a company. In the Knowledge Management course we will study the main themes in the field like 'KM models', 'knowledge management strategy', 'communities of practice and knowledge networks', 'knowledge discovery', 'knowledge management systems', and 'intellectual capital'.
For a long time companies relied on the production factors: labor, capital and (raw) material, but today the main production factor is knowledge (P. Drucker). Organizations, such as corporate enterprises, non-profits, educational institutions and governmental agencies, face the continual struggle to transform vast amounts of data, information and content into usable and reusable knowledge. Globalization and technological developments force organizations into a continuous process of change and adaptation.
Alvin Toffler and Peter Drucker already noticed the consequences in the 80's of the previous century. They mention the rise of the information based or knowledge based organization. This new type of organizations mainly consists of so-called 'knowledge workers' that largely depend on knowledge to do their work. Knowledge workers work rather autonomously hence a different organization structure is required that typically consist of less management layers. The growing awareness of knowledge as a distinct factor of production and the need for a new management approach has led to a new field of study and practice - knowledge management.
Another driver has been the development of so called 'knowledge systems'. However, results of implementing such systems are not always as expected. Systems are not always aligned with work practices, people need to know how to trust and interpret information provided, providing information or sharing knowledge is not automatically a part of everybody's job routine.

Master's thesis Sustainable Development (extension)

Extensive and important information on the procedure (attending presentations, approval, supervision, handing in, presenting, assessment etc.) can be found in the Master’s thesis course manual.
The Master’s thesis is the final research project in which the student will show that he/she is able to conduct independent research, in which new methods are developed and/or applied or existing methods are applied to a new problem. The research should be relevant from both a scientific point of view (it should expand the body of scientific knowledge) and a societal point of view (it should produce knowledge that can contribute to a better understanding or the solution of a problem). Learning-by-doing is part of the project. The student is encouraged to attend conferences and Copernicus-seminars etc. that are relevant or related to the research work.
The student proves his specialist knowledge of an issue related to his track and/or one of the other environmental themes of the research programme of the Copernicus Institute or International Development Studies and his mastering of the relevant research methods. The Master’s thesis is the optimal preparation for a further research career as PhD-student at a university or as a research-worker in a company, research institute or other organisation. The thesis can be based on the wide variety of research methods that are taught in the various courses of the Master’s programme. Whereas the work is generally not expected to be experimental in character, it should not be ruled out that experimental work may be part of the research project.

The research project may be carried out at university departments. All or part of the research may be carried out at a university outside The Netherlands, but also at research institutes, consultancy firms, etc. (provided that the work has an acknowledged scientific status).

Part of the research work can be done as an internship, for instance at a research institute, a company, a consultancy office or government agency.

Note
The students need to motivate their choice for either a 30 EC or 45 EC thesis (GEO4-2321 whether or not in combination with GEO4-2322) and this motivation needs to be approved by the supervisor.

Entry requirements:
At least 60 EC passed within the program, including:

  • Perspectives on SD (GEO4-2301)
  • Systems thinking, Scenarios & Indicators for SD (GEO4-2331)
  • Research Design (GEO4-2314)

And:

  • at least two track-specific courses of which 1 methods course (at least 15 EC in total). These are specified per track:

For track E&M:

  • Tools for E&M Analysis (GEO4-2326)

And 1 out of 3:

  • Energy Supply Technologies (GEO4-2312)
  • Energy & Materials Efficiency (GEO4-2324)
  • Policies for E&M Transitions (GEO4-2311)

For track ECE:

  • Environmental Systems Analysis (GEO4-2303), and
  • Environmental Change Theories (GEO4-2310)

For track ESG:

  • Research Strategies ESG (GEO4-2304)

And 1 out of 2:

  • Policy Analysis or Foundations of ESG Research (GEO4-2306)
  • Governance Theories (GEO4-2332)

For track ID:

  • Advanced M&T Development Studies (GEO4-3518)

And 1 out of 2:

  • Development Themes (GEO4-3510)
  • Development Theories (GEO4-3505)

Students in the SUSD-Joint Programme will need to have passed 60 EC, including one of the mobility tracks.

Track International Development

Advanced Methods and Techniques for International Development Studies (compulsory)

This module deals with research design (for IDS students) and advanced research methods and techniques (both for IDS and SUSD-ID students). It is conducted in close cooperation with the IDS staff and Methodology and Statistics section of the SGPL. During a series of lectures, tutorials and practicals students are introduced to a wide range of aspects pertaining to the design, conducting and analysis of research as well as actually working in other cultural settings. The students are trained in the hands-on implementation of a variety of methods and techniques as commonly applied during the various phases of the project cycle, such as data collection (e.g. interviewing and surveys) and analysis (qualitative and quantitative).
In addition, IDS students are trained in research design, including the clear formulation of the research problem, the research objective and the leading research questions; in the presentation of the relevant contextual information and theoretical perspectives, including the construction of a conceptual model and a set of working hypotheses. Guided by their internship supervisors, IDS students study a selection of literature that is relevant in terms of their internship, and provide a written and oral presentation of a proposal of the research project which is to be carried out during the student’s research – oriented internship at a professional organization in a developing or transition country.

Development themes

Globalization - enabling connections to be made between people and places on a world scale - is changing the world, and this is commonly assumed to have important implications for development processes, including the opportunities for poverty alleviation. According to the pessimists, globalization - though it has been benign for the majority of the developing world, is not working for the large majority of the poor. On the contrary, it is liable to make them more marginal. The more optimist group of scholars stress the positive aspects of globalization - facilitating people to use the newly created ‘ladders’ that will help them to escape from poverty. Others focus on the implications of globalization for ‘hybrid development’, showing that globalization will contribute to a new paradigm of development. In a globalizing world, local development is increasingly played out in a matrix of links that connect people and places with other places and people elsewhere. Globalization, after all, is connecting people and places that are distant in space but linked in such ways that what happens in one place has direct bearing on the other. Any locality can be viewed as a specific node in which numerous networks of different nature meet, possibly creating synergies, or perhaps clashing with each other. To what extent does globalization provide people with additional manoeuvring space, providing them with better opportunities to build sustainable lives and/or escape from poverty? How can local actors benefit from ‘global opportunities’ in such a way that this will provide a basis for sustainable development? How is the economic crisis resulting in deglobalization and what is the impact for local development?The course will start with a comparative overview of major development trends in Asia, Latin America and Africa, covering the overarching theme of: Translocal development in the global south: new scarcities, new mobilities. The course will then focus on a number of IDS’s research themes (which are linked to the internship programme):

  • Private sector development, global value chains and local economic development
  • Privatization of land, land grabbing and local implications
  • Sustainable urban futures? Issues of urbanization and urban governance
  • Public service delivery (education, health and sanitation) and local development
  • Deforestation and sustainable forest management
  • Climate change and natural resource management: Living on the edge
  • Responsible investments?
  • Transnationalism, migration and development

In addition to lectures by IDS-staff, a number of key-note speakers will be invited (‘meet the professional’); and IDS-students (who just returned from the field) will be invited to share their experience.

Development theories

This module critically examines the major approaches and theories that dominate thinking about development at present, and have done so in the past several decades. The focus here is on sustainable and equitable human development. The course adopts a multidisciplinary approach, discussing contributions by geographers as well as those by other development-oriented scholars. In reviewing different theoretical paradigms, the basic understanding is that each theory is embedded in a particular historical and societal context that inspires useful insights but also imposes certain limitations. No theoretical school has a definitive answer to the problems of human development, while on the other hand several key ideas persist or recur in different guises as newly formulated theoretical insights.

The following schools of development thinking will be discussed:

  • dualism, orientalism and the persistence of dichotomies in development thinking;
  • modernization theories viewing development as a unilinear process;
  • the dependencia school and political-economy approaches;
  • neoliberalism and globalization as a development paradigm;
  • (new) institutional approaches to development and the role of the state;
  • Structuralist versus actor-oriented approaches in development;
  • gender approaches to and in development;
  • postmodernism, post-development and postcolonialism;
  • Sen’s capabilities approach and development as freedom;
  • sustainable development and its critics;
  • social theories of development and the role of culture;
  • ethical approaches to development;
  • complexity theory and development;
  • Geopolitical perspectives on development.

Environmental Ethics and Sustainable Development

The present-day political and economic systems are not sustainable and we are heading for global environmental disasters (ecocide). The notions ‘sustainability’, ‘development’ and ‘sustainable development’ have gradually entered political and social debates, and scientific and philosophical investigations. It is rooted in concern about environmental degradation of our planet. Philosophical reflection about sustainable development and the human-nature relationship starts with clarifying key concepts of environmental science. Sustainable development should at least encompass three dimensions: (1) the environment (conservation and preservation), (2) economy (growth vs. steady state), and (3) the social structure (equity, welfare). These dimensions form the pillars of sustainable development and will be studied from a philosophical viewpoint.

This course aims at providing philosophical reflection on sustainable development-related issues as part of environmental philosophy. We start with reflection on three kinds of relationships from the perspective of sustainability: humans-humans, humans-animals, and humans-nature. During the course key concepts and methods of environmental philosophy are dealt with. We will explore concepts such as biodiversity and vulnerability, demographic transition and inter- and intragenerational (environmental) justice.

The emphasis of the course is normative deliberation on the environmental crises and sustainable development. What insights can science and environmental philosophy give to sustain life, future generations and a healthy ecosystem of planet Earth?

Migration, Mobilities & Sustainable Futures

The course draws on perspectives from the 'new' mobilities paradigm to deepen students’ understanding of the (new) linkages, flows and circulations that shape our increasingly inter-connected world. Using human migration and mobilities (e.g. business trips, tourism) as the starting point, we will examine how these flows share complex and dynamic relations with others movements (of goods, capital, resources, institutions, knowledge and development paradigms etc.). We will pay particular attention to the ‘politics of mobility’ to investigate the patterns and experiences, causes and effects of these ‘mobility bundles’. With ample case-studies from diverse contexts, we will analyse how human mobilities and associate flows shape – in a relational manner - resource use, affect people’s ability to improve their livelihood, offer development opportunities or pose constraints to institutions (e.g. firms or public organisations) and places (cities, regions, countries etc.). We will examine and reflect on the ways in which diverse forms of mobilities are being framed, linked and managed in development discourses and directives (e.g. the Sustainable Development Goal framework or the ‘migration crisis’ narrative).
The course commences with a few sessions in which we learn about and reflect on the mobilities paradigm and politics of mobility perspective. Multi-disciplinary examples will be shared to illustrate important and emerging themes surrounding mobilities and development. The second part of the course explores how mobilities (and being ‘in place’) play a role in the notion and pursuance of ‘development’ and ‘sustainable futures’ in the various sub-disciplines within human geography and planning. We will then consider some inter-disciplinary approaches to understanding the complex dynamics that link mobilities to development. In turn we will examine the assumptions made in major governance frameworks, e.g. the Sustainable Development Goals or various bilateral migration deals, regarding different types of mobilities. Drawing on this, we examine if, and how an inter-disciplinary geographical approach that is informed by the politics of mobility perspective can contribute to existing governance frameworks in envisioning inclusive and sustainable futures for our mobile world.

Master's thesis Sustainable Development (extension)

Extensive and important information on the procedure (attending presentations, approval, supervision, handing in, presenting, assessment etc.) can be found in the Master’s thesis course manual.
The Master’s thesis is the final research project in which the student will show that he/she is able to conduct independent research, in which new methods are developed and/or applied or existing methods are applied to a new problem. The research should be relevant from both a scientific point of view (it should expand the body of scientific knowledge) and a societal point of view (it should produce knowledge that can contribute to a better understanding or the solution of a problem). Learning-by-doing is part of the project. The student is encouraged to attend conferences and Copernicus-seminars etc. that are relevant or related to the research work.
The student proves his specialist knowledge of an issue related to his track and/or one of the other environmental themes of the research programme of the Copernicus Institute or International Development Studies and his mastering of the relevant research methods. The Master’s thesis is the optimal preparation for a further research career as PhD-student at a university or as a research-worker in a company, research institute or other organisation. The thesis can be based on the wide variety of research methods that are taught in the various courses of the Master’s programme. Whereas the work is generally not expected to be experimental in character, it should not be ruled out that experimental work may be part of the research project.

The research project may be carried out at university departments. All or part of the research may be carried out at a university outside The Netherlands, but also at research institutes, consultancy firms, etc. (provided that the work has an acknowledged scientific status).

Part of the research work can be done as an internship, for instance at a research institute, a company, a consultancy office or government agency.

Note
The student needs to motivate their choice for either a 30 EC or 45 EC thesis (GEO4-2321 or GEO4-2322) and this motivation needs to be approved by the supervisor.

Entry requirements:
At least 60 EC passed within the program, including:

  • Perspectives on SD (GEO4-2301)
  • Sustainability Modelling & Indicators (GEO4-2331)
  • Research Design (GEO4-2314)

And:

  • at least two track-specific courses of which 1 methods course (at least 15 EC in total). These are specified per track:

For track E&M:

  • Tools for E&M Analysis (GEO4-2326)

And 1 out of 3:

  • Sustainable Energy Supply (GEO4-2312)
  • Energy & materials Efficiency (GEO4-2324)
  • Policies for E&M Transitions (GEO4-2311)

For track ECE:

  • Environmental Systems Analysis (GEO4-2303), and
  • Environmental Change Theories (GEO4-2310)

For track ESG:

  • Research Methods ESG (GEO4-2304)

And 1 out of 2:

  • Policy Analysis or Foundations of ESG Research (GEO4-2306)
  • Governance theories (GEO4-2332)

For track ID:

  • Advanced M&T Development Studies (GEO4-3518)

And 1 out of 2:

  • Development themes (GEO4-3510)
  • Development Theories (GEO4-3505)

Students in the SUSD-Joint Programme will need to have passed 60 EC, including one of the mobility tracks.

Internship ID (compulsory)

In this course, you will have an opportunity to conduct a consultancy-type internship assignment on a specific topic related to themes introduced in the Development Themes course. The major part of the assignment consists of a 9-week fieldwork conducted in a team of 3-4 students in the period 4 of the first year, in collaboration with local organization(s) based in Africa, Asia or Latin America. Upon completion of this course, you will be able to obtain theoretical, methodological and practical as well as cross-cultural communication competency that will be useful for your career in further academic research and practical applications in public and private sectors.

This course will explore answers to the fundamental question: what are the actual impacts of development and sustainability interventions in developing regions of the global south? You are expected to execute the research plan that you will draft for the Advanced Methods & Techniques and Research Design courses in the periods 2 and 3. You will work under the supervision of staff members at International Development Studies Group in close collaboration with local organizations of the country where the internship opportunity is offered. Essential parts of this course constitute a critical understanding of the main opportunities and challenges for development and business investment practice, the application of skills in research methodology and data analysis, and the production of outputs both individually and collectively.

The fieldwork needs to be self-financed. The expected cost includes the cost of the air ticket, visa, vaccination (if necessary), and accommodation during the fieldwork. The actual cost varies but roughly about 1,000 euros.

NOTE: The teaching department is not responsible for the loss of rent, which International students with a 12 months SSH-housing contract will face, during their stay abroad.