Sustainability and Environmental Change

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Sustainability and Environmental Change

  • Host University

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

  • Location

    Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  • Area of Study

    Environmental Studies, Environmental Sustainability

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    In this course students learn about the environment’s pivotal role in achieving sustainable solutions for human development, mainly focused on global environmental problems.

    After this course, students:
    1. can explain key concepts from the natural sciences relevant for the study of sustainability;
    2. can characterize key components of the environment, namely water, land and atmosphere, and can explain key processes affecting their characteristics;
    3. can explain the role of the environment in socio-environmental systems;
    4. can identify methods to quantify the state of the environment, and analyze environmental change;
    5. can perform SWOT derived from the environmental conditions for specific sustainability challenges.

    The environment plays a crucial role in supporting societies, for example by providing materials, energy, food, clean air, and clean water. Environmental conditions change over space and time, influenced by both natural and human factors. In this course students learn about the environment’s pivotal role in achieving sustainable solutions for human development. Starting from the key environmental components water, land and atmosphere, we characterize environmental change and how that leads to other environmental and societal changes. Methods to assess environmental change are addressed and students identify for their specific case studies what strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, and threats are associated to the ‘planet dimension’. The course comprises interactive lectures and exercises and is evaluated through an assignment and a written exam.

    The course is organized in thematic weeks, which provide students with an understanding of the specifics of the dimensions water, land and atmosphere, how these can be studied and how they interact. Each week has 1 to 2 lectures, in parallel to which students develop their assignment. Lectures (H) and assignment are supported by in-class discussions (W), reading material, self-study, and exercises.

    The course will be evaluated through
    1) Group Assignment (A): SWOT analysis in Planet domain for personal case in the form presentation & working paper (30% of final grade)
    2) A closed-book written exam (E) (70% of final grade). A minimum grade of 5.5 is required to pass the course. There is one resit opportunity for the exam. Assignments with a grade lower than 5.5 can be improved once, after which the maximum grade that can be obtained for the assignment is 6.0.

    Grand Challenges (minor Sustainability: Global Challenges, Interdisciplinary Solutions. Period 1)

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Some courses may require additional fees.


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