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Environment & Development




Admissions requirements

200-level course from EES and/or GED tracks


Environment and development have increasingly come to be about the fundamentals of dwelling in the 21st Century. In this era of limited natural resources and global, instantaneous and high speed connectivity and technology, issues of peace and security, social and ecological rights and justice, mobility, risks and hazards, ethics, active citizenship, identity and diversity overlap with people's pursuit of their socio-economic development and ecological relations. There is compelling evidence to support the contention that humankind has entered a new Anthropocene era, where humanity is frequently the main driver of change in the physical environment, challenging planetary limits to the point of climate change, biodiversity loss, dryland expansion and nutrient loading of aquatic ecosystems. On the upside there are opportunities to halt this unsustainable progression (to some extent) through innovative ecological and socio-economic practices that facilitate sustainable development, to the benefit of all, within planetary resources. Progress and prosperity for all, where the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable are amply addressed, underpins the present day development perspective. This is epitomised in the Sustainable Development 2030 agenda's commitment to 'leave no one behind' whilst transforming the world. Address of social and ecological justice is clearly also part of the 'sustainable development' narrative. How we live in the environment and what we know about it and humanity's development, extends beyond individuals and communities to the agendas of civil society organisations, researchers, an array of institutions, public and corporate policy, legislation, market dynamics and international agreements. As such studying environment and development requires an holistic approach.

This course focuses on human development, the non human environment and the ecological relations therein. It will cover key ecological concepts and models, sustainable development and nature conservation. Global environmental and development challenges and solutions thereof will be explored. This will encompass traditional and more recent ways of thinking about development and the environment e.g. modernity, risk society, development aid, 'the doughnut', regulation and policy including lifecycle assessment, social and ecological justice, cradle to cradle/circular economies, Sustainable Development Goals 2030, active citizenship, transformed global institutions and the dwelling perspective.

Course objectives

On successful completion of this course students will be knowledgeable about and able to:


  • Identify, critically evaluate and discuss key global challenges in environment and development.

  • Describe and critique predominant theories, concepts, agreements and global-local responses to environment and development crises, including that of sustainable development.

  • Understand environmental assessment and its purpose/s, including Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).

  • Understand, reflect on and critically appraise the paradigm shift of 'Zero waste' and the circular economy.


  • Demonstrated capacity for individual critical thought, rational inquiry and interdisciplinary thinking.

  • Ability to work independently as well as effectively collaborate in groups during class discussions, activities and course assignments.

  • Conceptually and innovatively design, defend and present a circular economy product or service.

  • Meaningfully interpret scientific data with a focus on those which inform key debates on planetary limits and realising human well being for all.

  • Construct academically concise, persuasive and meaningful contributions in the form of presentations, class discussion and written material.


Once available, timetables will be published in the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

This course will be taught through two-hour interactive seminar sessions twice a week. Following an introductory week, lectures will comprise instruction, pop-quizzes, discussion and debate. Students are expected to participate as individuals and as members of small and large groups. Prescribed reading and viewing of multimedia must be done prior to each class period.


Students will be assessed on an individual and group basis as follows:

  • Class participation: 15%

  • Individual position paper (poverty and well-being): 35%

  • Group assignment (linked to the circular economy): 15%

  • Final exam: 35%

Please note:

  • In accordance with article 4.8 of the Course and Examination Regulations (OER), within 30 days after the publication of grades, the instructor will provide students the opportunity to inspect their exams/coursework.

  • There is a no re-sit policy at Leiden University College.


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

The reading and additional multimedia viewing list will be available digitally.


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