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Planet in Peril: Exploring Human Relations with Nature


Skills: Collaboration skills, Project management, Presentation skills, Making a documentary video
Disciplines: Law, Philosophy, Biology
Themes: Biodiversity, Climate change, Waste, and the future. (Each topic is introduced by a keynote lecture, followed by student presentations.)
Type: Honours Class: This course combines theory and practice to learn how to tackle a complex issue.

Admission requirements

This course is an (extracurricular) Master Honours Class aimed at talented Master’s students. Admission will be based on academic background, GPA and motivation.


This course explores our relation to nature, combining tools and insights from disciplines such as environmental science, biology, law and philosophy. The course will cover various aspects of the unfolding climate and ecological crises to reveal the complexity of the problem and what makes it so hard to address. The course will be organized around several key topics, which will likely include: global warming, biodiversity, waste, intergenerational justice and political power. Each topic is introduced by a keynote lecture, followed by student presentations.

Global warming: anthropogenic climate change is real, and scientists predict that it will have disastrous consequences for ecosystems and for human life all over the planet. What does the latest research tell us about the impacts of climate change? How effective are current climate policies at reducing emissions?

Biodiversity: Around the globe, animals and plants are dying at alarming rates. Are we witnessing a sixth mass extinction? To what extent should we be concerned about biodiversity loss? And what should be done about it?

Waste: Why do we have a waste problem? To answer this question, we need to understand the social and economic developments that created the conditions for materials to become waste. We consider the particular example of plastic used as packaging material. The invention of plastic sparked off a whole range of inventions that shaped modern life as we know it; e.g., the rise of supermarkets. Without changing ‘modern life as we know it’ the waste problem is not likely to be solved.

Justice: Do we have a duty towards future generations to preserve nature as best as we can, and to make sure that future generations can lead a life that is at least as healthy and rewarding as our own? This raises general questions about intergenerational justice, and more specific questions about the role of nature. An alternative approach to our future on Earth is to leave traditional ideas about nature behind us, and embrace technological possibilities for transcending biological nature. This approach typically rejects the idea that nature should be ‘restored’, and explores instead how technology can be used to maintain a sustainable relationship with our planet.

Course objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • be able to identify different perspectives on environmental issues;

  • be able to describe and reflect on their own attitude in relation to nature;

  • show sophistication in their judgement and analyses of environmental issues;

  • have trained their skills in collaboration and project management.

Programme and Timetable

The sessions of this class will take place from 17.15. tot 19.00 on the following Wednesdays:

Session 1: February 28 (Lipsius building, room 1.23)
Session 2: March 6 (Lipsius building, room 1.21)
Session 3: March 13 (Lipsius building, room 1.21)
Session 4: March 20 (Lipsius building, room 1.54)
Session 5: March 27 (Lipsius building, room 1.21)
Session 6: April 3 (Lipsius building, room 1.21)
Session 7: April 10 (Lipsius building, room 1.21)
Session 8: April 17 (Lipsius building, room 1.21)
Session 9: April 24 (Lipsius building, room 1.21)
Session 10: May 1 (Lipsius building, room 1.21)
Session 11: June 5 Video Workshop (15.00 - 16.30) (Lipsius building, room 1.21)
Session 12: Filmfestival: June 19 (14.00 tot 17.00) in Lipsius building, room 2.27


Lipsius building, rooms 1.23, 1.21, 2.27

Course load

This course is worth 5 ECTS, which means the total course load equals 140 hours.



The assesment is based on:

  • Presentation;

  • Final project;

  • Reflection report;

  • Participation.

Students will be graded with pass / fail / good / excellent.

Reading list


Brightspace and uSis

Brightspace will be used in this course. Upon admission students will be enrolled in Brightspace by the teaching administration.

Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for the Master Honours Classes. Your registration will be done centrally.


Did you miss the application deadline? Please submit your application as soon as possible by filling in this form.

Note: students don’t have to register for the Master Honours Classes in uSis. The registration is done centrally before the start of the class.


Tim Meijers: