The Sustainable Development programme offers the following four tracks:
Track title: Energy and Materials
Natural sciences and social sciences
Energy and Materials
Energy and Materials is a multidisciplinary natural and social sciences track that focuses on the analysis of energy and materials systems. Current systems are clearly unsustainable as they have a significant negative impact on the environment and are based on finite resources. In the track we study cleaner and renewable production options and a more efficient consumption of energy and materials needed for sustainable development. The focus of the track is both global and local, with examples and topics on global, European and national or provincial level. There is limited focus on specific challenges in developing countries.
Please note that some track courses build on specific foreknowledge, notably concerning energy analysis and thermodynamics (consult the Study Guide for current students for more information). Students lacking this foreknowledge are responsible for acquiring this knowledge independently before entering such courses.
- How will global energy and material demand develop in the coming decades?
- What is the role of wind, nuclear, and solar power in the future energy supply system?
- What is the role of material efficiency and product design in a sustainable society? How can circular economy contribute?
- What policies can be implemented to effectively improve energy and material efficiency?
Track title: Environmental Change and Ecosystems
Environmental Change and Ecosystems is a multidisciplinary natural science track focusing on the interaction between humans and the physical and biotic environment. The track brings together the fields of physical geography, hydrology, (landscape) ecology, mathematics, physics, and chemistry. You will study changes in land use, the dispersal of substances (in water, soil, and air) and their impact on ecosystems, biodiversity and remediation options.
Please note that some track courses build on specific foreknowledge, notably concerning mathematics and systems analysis (consult the Study Guide for current students for more information). Students lacking this foreknowledge are responsible for acquiring this knowledge independently before entering such courses.
- How do the substances generated by various human activities spread through water, air, and subsoil?
- What impact does environmental pollution have on ecosystems?
- How can ecosystems and biodiversity be protected more effectively?
- What options are there for regenerating damaged ecosystems?
- How should future water management adapt to climate change?
Track title: Earth System Governance
Earth System Governance is a multidisciplinary social science track that deals with environmental issues and environmental policy. The track integrates knowledge from the fields of policy science, sociology, human geography, planning, economics and law. You will study the strategies governments, businesses and civil society develop and implement in their quest for sustainable development. Good governance means the ability to create organisational, procedural and moral frameworks that have a positive impact on issues of sustainability related to climate change, production and consumption, biodiversity, water, and the urban environment.
- How do central, regional, and local governments collaborate with companies to relieve the stress put on the environment by the chemical industry? Which factors determine whether this collaboration is fruitful?
- What policies can be deployed to stimulate biodiversity in the agricultural sector?
- How can a switch to eco-efficient production and consumption be achieved?
- To what extent can policy-making ensure that mega-infrastructure projects take the quality of built environments into account?
- Under which conditions are societies able to adapt successfully to climate change?
Track title: International Development
International Development is a multidisciplinary social science track that focuses on how the need for improved living conditions for growing populations in the Global South can be reconciled with the need to preserve natural resources. This track combines practical experience, such as fieldwork and empirical research, with insights and concepts derived from sociology, geography, anthropology and environmental studies.
- How can human development in countries south of the equator be reconciled with environmental sustainability?
- To what extent are environmentally friendly policies economically, socially, and culturally sustainable in Africa, Latin America, and Asia?
- What is the environmental impact of economic development processes?
- How do people respond to hazards and ‘risky environments’ and what are the consequences of their vulnerable situations?
- How can migration and eco-tourism contribute to poverty alleviation and improved livelihoods?
- How can societies cope with declining livelihoods in desertified and/or deforested areas?
- How can local governance contribute to sustainable living conditions within the context of rapid urbanisation?
- How does globalisation and liberalisation affect access to natural resources such as land, water, and fuels?