Understanding Environmental Issues

University of Otago

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Understanding Environmental Issues

  • Host University

    University of Otago

  • Location

    Dunedin, New Zealand

  • Area of Study

    Environmental Science, Environmental Studies

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    ENVI 111 or 108 points

  • 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

  • Credit Points

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    3 - 4
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    4 - 6
  • Overview

    An examination of contemporary environmental issues using concepts of scientific understanding, social, political and cultural construction and contestation, and intervention and transformation strategies.

    Where do you stand on environmental issues? There seem so many it can feel overwhelming. In this paper we don't want to tell you what to think about those issues. We want to help you make sense of them by developing a way of thinking about them: what does the science tell us, what are the main social debates, and what solutions or interventions are possible? There is always more than one way to think about complex environmental issues, so we want you to be able to recognise those perspectives before deciding where you stand on things.

    Course Structure
    Each year three topics are selected as the core themes of the paper. Each of these topics is addressed in three ways to represent dominant academic modes of generating knowledge and developing understanding and considering solutions to environmental crises.

    • First, we examine the science around each topic
    • Second, we look at each topic in terms of the political, social and cultural constructions and contestations associated with them
    • Finally, the key mechanisms for influencing change, or for regulation or transformation of the particular crisis, are described

    Through this three-fold engagement, the forms of knowledge and the insights from different disciplines are brought into dynamic interaction around a specific problem in much the same way that students of the paper will, potentially, have to engage with these problems as graduates.

    Learning Outcomes
    On completion of the paper students should be able to:
    - Engage critically with scientific and social-scientific framing of environmental issues
    - Recognise the varied processes by which new knowledge and understanding about environmental issues are developed
    - Understand the means by which people engage in political transformation, intervention strategies, tools for change and policy development

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

Please reference fall and spring course lists as not all courses are taught during both semesters.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations

Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.