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Environment & Development




Admissions requirements



The subject of Environment and Development builds bridges between environmental and economic policy at national and international government and community levels, and links them across diverse interest groups. In this course, different theoretical frameworks as well as practice of environmental and development governance will be discussed, including the work of organizations and institutions such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and the United Nations conventions on climate change and biological diversity.

The course focuses on the question of how to conserve nature in a rapidly changing world. How do considerations of justice, development, sustainability and resilience influence resource use and conservation? How are natural resources managed, and who is responsible for nature conservation? The course will look into these questions from a theoretical perspective, as well as from a more practical point of view, exploring interdisciplinary and problem-oriented approaches to biodiversity conservation and human development.

Course objectives

After following this course, the students would have acquired theoretical and practical knowledge of both economic development and environmental policy. The students will be able to identify critical theories and ethical dilemmas when approaching global issues and will be able to describe various models and frameworks in relation to environment and development. The students will be able to apply theories to practical situations in the real world by outlining and evaluating the key patterns and trends in international politics with special emphasis on innovation of sustainable practices. They will learn to evaluate increasing globalization and its effect on society and environment, international trade systems and financial relations and the role of several principal institutions as well as NGO’s on international developmental and environmental policy.

Culture specific competences will include knowledge of the underlying principles, characteristics, components and universal dynamics of sustainable living that in varying combinations govern all cultures. Students will be able to apply their understanding of specific cultural differences to function in specific settings, particularly in the context of changing social and environmental implications across the globe. The students will be able to use his conceptual and visionary skills to contribute to the development and evaluation of the internationalization strategies that incorporate social and environmental aspects in the operation of global governance.

The students will be able to research and analyze international environmental and development problems related to social and environmental effects, and to propose policy goals and objectives that take environmental sustainability in the long term into account and to prepare alternative solutions in order to optimize both human development (in a broader than economic sense) and environmental outcomes. The students will be able to assess processes and decisions involved in developing international, sustainable operations and to explain the meaning and application of key logistical concepts.

In sum, the students will be able to

  • Acquire theoretical and practical knowledge in the field of environment and development;

  • Develop interdisciplinary insights in biodiversity conservation;

  • Improve understanding of contemporary debates on environmental conservation;

  • Practice general academic skills.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The course uses a mix of lectures, seminars and an excursion. For more details, please see section on Assessment below.


Weekly assignments:
The assignment will consist of four parts: Discussion, Assignments, Essay and Presentation.

Discussion of the assigned articles will occur during the second class of the week (normally, the first one will be interactive lecture) with three students per week being assigned the chapter or article (one per student) to discuss.

Note: ALL students need to read weekly literature, but only three or four per week will lead the discussion. In order to prepare for discussion, it is expected that students will take notes on assigned literature, summarizing main argument, providing reflection, and asking for feedback from other students (these notes can be used for writing an Essay). Students’ own leading the discussion contributes equally to participation in others’ discussions.

Individual weekly assignments for ALL students are specified below per week. Complete these assignments per week (individually), post them weekly in dropbox of Blackboard, and submit as one separate document on the same day as Essay. There will be eight assignments and the grade will reflect the average of all assignments.

Essay: (max. 5000 words) on literature of your choice: Summarize the main argument; Critically reflect on the ethical, practical, and political implications for environmental and development policy and on research methods (if applicable); Address why this literature is relevant for the larger field of Environment and Development.

Present your Essay in max 5 minutes. Deadline of submission is tba.

  • Individual weekly Assignments 40% – Deadline TBA

  • Essay 20% – Deadline TBA

  • Participation and Discussion of assigned ( 30% (15% participation and 15% for discussion)) – Throughout the course

  • Presentation 10% – Throughout the course


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Kopnina, H and Blewitt, J. 2014. Sustainable Business: Key Issues, New York: Routledge. This book will be referred to below as K&B.

Additional literature reading is indicated per session below, and available on Blackboard


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr. Helen Kopnina



Week 1. Introduction

  • K&B Chapter 1.

  • Lewis, D. 2005. Anthropology and development: the uneasy relationship. In A Handbook of economic anthropology: ed. by Carrier, J. G. (ed.). Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK, pp. 472-486.

  • Sponsel, L. E. 2013. Human Impact on Biodiversity: Overview, In Encyclopedia of Biodiversity, (Second Edition), Simon Asher Levin, Waltham, MA: Academic Press 4:137-152.

Assignment: For discussion of articles: see ‘assessment’ above. For the book (for ALL students): answer discussion questions after K&B Chapter 1. Also reflect on box 1.1.

Week 2. Environmental sustainability: ethical and practical challenges

  • K&B Chapter 2.

  • Crist, E. 2012. Abundant Earth and Population. In Life on the Brink: Environmentalists confront Overpopulation. P. Cafaro and E. Crist, eds. Pp. 141-153. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press.

  • Desmond, J. 2013. Requiem for Roadkill: Death and Denial on America’s Roads. In Environmental Anthropology: Future Directions. Edited by H. Kopnina and E. Shoreman-Ouimet New York and Oxford: Routledge. Pp. 46-58.

  • Goodall, J. 2015. Caring for People and Valuing Forests in Africa. In G. Wuerthner, E. Crist and T. Butler (eds), Protecting the Wild: Parks and Wilderness, The Foundation for Conservation, Washington, London: The Island Press, pp. 21–26.

In class: Watch film If A Tree Falls.

Assignment: For discussion of articles: see ‘assessment’ above. For ALL students:

  1. Write a one-page summary and personal reflection of the film. You are encouraged to be critical!

  2. Read the Living Planet Report: Compute your ecological footprint: _report_graphics/footprint_interactive/

Week 3. Social sustainability

  • K&B Chapter 3

  • Brosius, P. 1999. Green Dots, Pink Hearts: Displacing Politics from the Malaysian Rain Forest. American Anthropologist 101(1):36:57.

In class: Watch film Schooling the world.

Assignment: For discussion of articles: see ‘assessment’ above. Additionally for ALL: Write a one-page summary and personal reflection of the film and discussion guide You are encouraged to be critical!

Week 4. Sustainability and unsustainability

  • K&B Chapter 9.

  • Smail, K. 2003. Remembering Malthus III: Implementing a Global Population Reduction. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 123(2):295-300.

  • Lidskog, R., & Elander, I. 2010. Addressing climate change democratically: Multi-level governance, transnational networks and governmental structures. Sustainable Development 18(1), 32-41.

Assignment: For discussion of articles: see ‘assessment’ above. For the book for ALL: Choose one box or a case study from K&B Chapters 2, 3, 5, 9 to write an essay on.

Week 5. Environment and economic development: paradoxes and ethical challenges

  • K&B Chapter 9.

  • Rees, W. 2010. What’s blocking sustainability? Human nature, cognition, and denial. Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy 6(2):13-25.

  • Bartlett, A. 1994. Reflections on Sustainability, Population Growth and the Environment. Population & Environment 16(1): 5–35.

Excursion: tba (possibly Harry Derksen/ co-founder the New world campus/ OR Patagonia company, Amsterdam; or WWF office, Zeist).

Assignment: For discussion of articles: see ‘assessment’ above. For all: write report on excursion.

Week 6. Development, consumption, and ethics

  • Isenhour, C. 2010. On conflicted Swedish consumers, the effort to stop shopping and neo-liberal environmental governance. Journal of Consumer Behavior, 9: 454-469.

  • Sullivan, S. 2009. Green Capitalism and the Cultural Poverty of Constructing Nature as Service Provider. Radical Anthropology, 3: 18-27.

  • Shoreman-Ouimet, E. and Kopnina, H. 2015. Reconciling Ecological and Social Justice to Promote Biodiversity Conservation. Biological Conservation. 184: 320–326.

  • Derby, M. W., Piersol, L. & Blenkinsop, S. 2015. Refusing to settle for pigeons and parks: urban environmental education in the age of neoliberalism, Environmental Education Research, 21(3): 378-389.

Assignment: For discussion of articles: see ‘assessment’ above. For ALL: Write personal reflections on what you think are the key challenges and paradoxes of sustainable development

Week 7. Conventional and alternative models of sustainability: solutions

  • K&B Chapter 11.

  • Washington, H. 2015. Chapter 11. Solutions for Sustainability. Demystifying Sustainability: Towards Real Solutions. London, Routledge.

  • Braungart, M. and McDonough, W. 2002. Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the way we make things, London: Vintage Books. Pp. 18-42.

Assignment: For discussion of articles: see ‘assessment’ above. For ALL: Write a reflection on the main differences between conventional approaches to sustainability (e.g. eco-efficiency, sustainable growth) and Cradle to Cradle and/or circular economy

Week 8. Presentations