The University of Southampton
Courses

GEOG6098 Introduction to Sustainability

Module Overview

GEOG6098 is a multidisciplinary unit designed for students with an interest in sustainable development, sustainability, green growth, complex socio-ecological systems, and resilient development. Over the term we will explore the key issues and debates around sustainability, and undertake practical work to develop students’ skills in interpreting and evaluating the multiple sustainability values and perspectives. This module will provide students with a firm grounding in the relationship between sustainability and the core concepts of justice, ethics and wellbeing, systems dynamics, conservation and ecology, economic growth and development, politics and governance, technology, tools, and resilience. The module will consider both past examples of sustainable development as well as current and emerging challenges relating to sustainability. Lectures in weeks 1, and 12 will provide a front and back end to the course. Seminars will run in parallel with lectures with typically a double slot seminar following on from a lecture. In the seminars we will review and apply theories and concepts in real world contexts. This will be delivered through case studies and practical work.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To provide a thorough theoretical and applied understanding of sustainability, engage students in the key debates, and equip students with practical sustainability evaluation skills.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Carefully articulate the multiple interpretations of sustainability and the worldviews that underpin these perspectives
  • Critically evaluate the concepts of justice, ethics and wellbeing, conservation, resilience, and economic growth and development
  • Describe to a lay person the successes and failures of past attempts at sustainability, the reasons for these, and the future direction of sustainability
  • Critique the popular and academic literature on sustainable development and socio-ecological resilience revealing an understanding of the multiple perspectives, while also being able to identify robust concerns or options
  • Produce academic and commercially relevant information on sustainability for scientific as well as non-scientific audiences
  • Describe multiple examples of the interconnectedness of justice, ethics and wellbeing, conservation, complex systems’ resilience, and economic growth and development

Syllabus

1. Introduction / historical context of sustainability (lecture) 2. World views and ethics values (lecture) 1. understanding world views and their impact on behaviour (seminar) 2. Field trip: to either Thames Barrier or Medmerry managed realignment 3. Cultural and contested understanding of science and sustainability (lecture) 1. Critical thinking (seminar) 2. Assignment 1: corporate briefing on sustainability within one sector 3. MCQs 1: formative online quiz for self-assessment 4. Social and environmental justice, ethics and wellbeing (lecture) 1. Role of indicators in assessing sustainability (seminar) 5. Politics and governance of sustainable development (lecture) 1. Sustainability within multi-level governance (seminar). 6. Conservation and sustainable development (lecture). 1. Protected areas, people, parks and priorities (seminar). 2. Assignment 2: group poster and presentation on multi-sectoral approach to sustainability 7. Socio-ecological systems at multiple scales 1. Socio-ecological systems, living within planetary boundaries and social constraints (seminar). 2. MCQs 2: formative online quiz for self-assessment 8. Beyond the imperatives of economic growth: sustainable development vs sustainable growth (lecture) 1. Class structured debate on “Green growth and sustainable growth ignore the imperatives of sustainable development” (seminar / debate) 9. Envisioning sustainable societies: resilience and transformation (lecture) 1. New modelling technologies (seminar). 10. Tools, systems and innovation for sustainability (lecture). 1. New media, crowd sourcing data and data management (seminar). 2. MCQs 3: formative online quiz for self-assessment 11. Future challenges for sustainability / the new debates (lecture).

Special Features

For features such as field trips, information should be included as to how students with special needs will be enabled to benefit from this or an equivalent experience. One field trip in the third week of the module will be organised to Westmill solar and wind farm cooperative.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

• 11 weeks x 2 hours lectures • 1 x 8 hour field trip to either Thames Barrier OR Medmerry managed realignment • 8 weeks x 1 hour seminar • 2 x 1 hour setting assignments • 2 x 1 hour help session • Total hours = 42 Daily responses to BB forum queries from a module convenor and other teaching staff Participatory learning approaches, peer-learning and collaboration - within and beyond the classroom – lie at the heart of this module, thereby allowing students to be exposed to multiple perspectives and enabling creative responses to emerge. This will be achieved through weekly seminars and a second assignment that is about collaboration and cooperation. Total hours = 40

TypeHours
Independent Study120
Teaching30
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Adger, W.N. and Jordan, A. (eds) (2009). Governing Sustainability. 

Mulligan, Martin (2014). An Introduction to Sustainability: Environmental, Social and Personal Perspectives. 

Blewitt, John (2015). Understanding Sustainable Development. 

Assessment

Assessment Strategy

• Repeat failed assignment (if assignment 1 or 3). • Formative assessment does not need to be passed • Student needs to gain an average pass mark of 50% to successfully complete this module

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment 30%
Assignment 30%
Essay  (3000 words) 40%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework assignment(s) %

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal

Costs

Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Travel Costs for placements

Students will be expected to pay for their own lunch and refreshments during the day. (fieldwork)

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at www.calendar.soton.ac.uk.

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