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Biodiversity and Society



[BSc] S, GC

Admission Requirements



The Biodiversity and Society course will provide knowledge and insights in the ecological, cultural and economic backgrounds of conservation biology. The key questions are related to the question: why should we conserve nature and biodiversity? The subjects to be covered are principles, values and ethics of nature and biodiversity conservation, conservation policy, co-management, ecological economics and economic valuation of nature. To this end a selection of highly qualified researchers from different research groups and civil society will give a contribution to the course. Most contributions will be interactive of nature. So students should be keen on participation in discussions etc.

Course Objectives

After completion of the course students will be able to:

  • think holistically about nature and biodiversity conservation

  • qualify and quantify factors that impact on nature and biodiversity

  • identify best strategies towards management of nature and biodiversity

  • make and present a poster for raising awareness on nature and biodiversity issues

After completion of the course students will know:

  • the characteristics of biodiversity and related ecological concepts

  • the economic valuation of nature and biodiversity

  • the societal mechanisms and processes that have an impact on biodiversity and nature

  • examples of on- the–ground approaches towards management and conservation of nature and biodiversity

  • (inter-)national policy strategies and approaches to control the societal impact on nature and biodiversity

Mode of Instruction

Each week of the course a specific biodiversity-and-nature theme will be addressed, so 6 themes in total. The theme of the week is covered in the two-hour plenary lectures on Tuesday and addressed again, but in a different form (student presentation, video presentation, critical review and debate, poster assignment preparation, etc.) during the two-hour seminar sessions on Thursday.

The themes that have been selected for the Biodiversity & Society course (but some may still be subject to change depending on availability of lecturers) include 1) introduction to biodiversity and ecosystems, 2) nature conservation in temperate and tropical areas, 3) ethics of conservation, 4) economic valuation of biodiversity, 5) biodiversity and civilization, and 6) biodiversity and indigenous people

The seminars are composed of different activities in alternating plenary and group work sessions related to the weekly themes. Activities during bi-weekly seminars include:

  • construction of a wiki page on nature and biodiversity conservation

  • oral presentation of the Wiki page

  • preparing critical questions and discussion points, news items related to the chapters of the book to be studied


To be confirmed in course syllabus:

Oral presentation of maximum of 20 minutes (group): 20%
Assignment on Wiki pages (group): 40%
Open-book exam (individual assessment): 40%


Navjot S. Sodhi and Paul R. Ehrlich 2010. Conservation biology for all . Oxford University Press. Freely available on internet:

Other recommended literature:

Richard B Primack 2010. Essentials of conservation biology. 5th Edition. More info see:

Martha J Groom, Gary K Meffe and C Ronald Carroll 2006. Principles of conservation biology. More info see:

Contact Information

Dr. Wil Tamis

Weekly Overview

Week 1: Introduction to biodiversity and ecosystem services
Week 2: Nature Conservation in temperate areas
Week 3: Nature Conservation in tropical areas
Week 4: Ethics of conservation
Week 5: Economic valuation of biodiversity
Week 6: Biodiversity and civilization/ or indigenous people
Week 7: Reading week and exam

Preparation for first session