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Syllabus

Introduction

Sustainable development is often viewed a western preoccupation but many developing countries suffer from severe problems of environmental degradation. China stands out as an example. The Yangtze, China's longest river offering drinking water to 200 cities, is found to be "cancerous" with pollution. China has 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities. Estimates suggest that 300,000 people a year die prematurely from respiratory diseases. In some cities life expectancy dropped. Only 20% of China's 168m tonnes of solid waste per year is properly disposed of and China would need 10,000 waste-water treatment plants costing some $48 billion just to achieve a 50% treatment rate (Economist, China’s environment – A great wall of waste, August 19, 2004). Wealth increased thanks to industrialisation but working conditions are poor and stressful. Is this what people want? If not, how may they get get what they want -- through what kind of institutional reforms and policies?

This course will examine policy responses to environmental problems caused by economic development with special attention to innovation. The central topic of the course is innovation for the environment, which is explored through a number of lectures and discussion meetings.


The course will have a strong methodological focus. Students will learn about the role of theory, the difference between positivistic and interpretative research traditions and ways to combine different methods and theories. At the end of the course they must write a paper in which they scrutinise a scientific article (or book chapter) of their own choice on the topic of eco-innovation or green development, analysing how the findings depend on the research methods and analytical framework that is applied and whether other sources of information and causal explanations are overlooked. The paper should be in a journal article format.


The course will thus teach methodological knowledge besides substantive knowledge about issues related to innovation and governance pertaining to sustainable development. The course will also acquaint student with institutional theory and governance – how the plurality of interests is transformed into coordinated action and the compliance of actors is achieved.


Topics
1. Environmental degradation and poverty
2. Sustainable development
3. Innovation for sustainable development
4. Environmental management and innovation strategies
5. Societal transformations
6. Institutional theory
7. Governance for sustainable development
8. Policy responses to environmental degradation
9. Capacity development for innovation
10. Research methods

The topics will be discussed at 10 meetings with the following format a. Introductory presentation by course lecturer René Kemp (about 20 minutes); b. Brief personal comments and discussion questions raised to the subject by first referent on the basis of the lecture’s reading material (5 minutes); c. Brief personal comments and discussion questions raised by second referent on the basis of chosen background reading material (5 minutes); d. Discussion & debate (about 30 minutes) Students must read the literature that is provided (4 articles / chapters) before the
discussion meetings.

Grading
This will be based on active participation in discussions during the meetings (1/3 weight) and the written assignment (2/3 weight).

Copyright 2013, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource. Syllabus. (2007, December 07). Retrieved October 28, 2013, from UN University OCW Web site: http://www.ocw.unu.edu/maastricht-economic-and-social-research-and-training-centre-on-innovation-and-technology/environment-and-sustainable-development/syllabus. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Creative Commons License