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Environment & Development


Admission requirements

None, but a 200-level course from the same track is recommended.


We are living in an era of unprecedented challenges that occur at the intersection of environment and development. What is now often generally labelled as the climate crisis, in fact encompasses a host of long-standing, intertwined and underlying environmental and development issues. These include (but are not limited to) depletion of natural resources, destruction of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, air and water pollution, mass consumption, poverty and inequality, violent conflict, population pressure, migration and urbanization.

This course focuses on the question of how we can analyze and begin to solve this wide array of problems. We start by asking: what is an environmental problem and for whom is it a problem? In order to gain deeper understanding of the root causes and to begin to think of viable solutions, we need to know how considerations of development, sustainability, resilience, intragenerational solidarity and environmental justice influence the use and conservation of natural resources. How are natural resources managed, and who is responsible for their conservation? Who reaps the benefits of resource exploitation and who carries the burden of environmental costs? 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 environmental governance.

Course Objectives

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


Learning Outcomes:

  • Identify, evaluate and discuss contemporary debates on global challenges in environment and development.

  • Describe and evaluate predominant theories, concepts, agreements and responses to environment and development crises.

  • Understand Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, its purposes and its limitations.


Learning outcomes:

  • Make a scientifically sound environmental problem analysis.

  • Design, defend and present a project proposal to solve an environmental problem of choice.

  • Approach challenges in environment and development from an interdisciplinary perspective.

  • Work independently and collaborate effectively in groups during class discussions and assignments.

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


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2020-2021 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

This course will be taught through two-hour interactive classes twice a week. Classes consist of a combination of (online)lectures, group and individual assignments, student presentations, role-plays, discussions around documentary-material, and (if conditions permit), an excursion to a nearby protected area which also serves as a drinking water facility for a large urban population.

We will use the reader by Robbins, Hintz and Moore (see below) to understand and work with key themes, concepts and theories in environment and development. This will be coupled with case studies from above mentioned reader and additional literature that will be available on-line, as well as case studies from the lecturer’s research offered during class.

Students are expected to actively participate as individuals and as members of groups. Prescribed reading and viewing of other materials must be done prior to each class.

Assessment Method

  • In class participation (individual)(ongoing weeks 1-7): 5%

  • Two assignments (individual)(week 4 & 5)
    1) Problem Analysis Deforestation (5%)
    2) Peer Review of part of Project Proposal (5%)
    total: 10%

  • Project Proposal (individual)(week 6): 40%

  • Take-home exam (individual)(week 8): 45%

Reading list

Paul Robbins, John Hintz, Sarah A. Moore (2014) Environment and Society: A Critical Introduction. 2nd Edition. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN: 978-1-118-45156-4

This reader is available as e-book and paperback.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Tessa Minter,