Land Use Change

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Land Use Change

  • Host University

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

  • Location

    Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  • Area of Study

    Development Studies, Geology

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


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    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

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

    The interactions between earth and economics that steer changes in land use are central to this course. Socio-economic processes, spatial policy and bio-physical conditions determine the way humans use the surface of the earth. These driving forces are active at various scale levels and they are often interrelated, making the analysis of land-use change a complex issue. Moreover, changes in land use (in)directly affect the social and physical environment in which humans live, creating feedback loops in the dynamics of land-use change. In order to understand the mechanisms of change and the impact of policies, researchers and practitioners have turned their attention to formulating models that simulate land-use dynamics. These land-use change models help us to understand the characteristics and interdependencies of the components that constitute spatial systems. Moreover, they can provide valuable insights into possible land-use configurations in the future.

    This course aims to provide insight in the most important forces that influence land-use dynamics and allows students to independently apply this knowledge to analyse actual changes, explain these and simulate potential future land-use patterns. Ample attention will be paid to the societal application of this knowledge in current spatial planning issues related to, for example, climate change, open space preservation and biodiversity.

    Studies of land-use change incorporate concepts and knowledge from a wide range of disciplines. Geography, as a spatial science, contributes significantly to the understanding of land-use change whilst demography and economics help explain underlying trends. Model building relies heavily on mathematics and (geographical) information science, but also includes many elements from the softer sciences, such as management studies and environmental science. This course offers a cross-sectional overview of methods, tools and current research progress in the analysis of land-use change. See the course pages on Canvas for more information.

    The course consists lecturing, supervised practical sessions and a final interactive session in which the analysis and simulation of land-use change will be explained, practised and discussed. Outside these scheduled hours students will need additional time to finalise the assignments and independently read scientific literature. As the course only takes four weeks, students are expected to be busy with it full time. Past experiences have taught that combinations with other activities often lead to the missing of deadlines and insufficient results.

    Written examination and active participation in the practical sessions. The assessment will be based on a written final examination (65%) and the marks for the practical assignments (35%). For each of these components students should obtain a mark of 5.5 or higher.

    Some practical experience in using GIS-software is required, as is an interest in understanding land-use change processes.

    The course stresses the importance of a multidisciplinary approach in analysing land use change and introduces concepts, methods and tools that can be relevant to a wide range of students. This course is intended for students in the third year of the Earth and Economics Bachelor programme and is part of several minor programmes. In addition it is also open to others interested in the topic that meet the entry requirements.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

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