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Environment and Development




Admission Requirements

Similarly tagged 200-level and 300-level courses. Students that do not meet this prerequisite should contact the instructor regarding the required competencies before course allocation.


The course Environment and Development focuses on how to conserve complex socio-ecological systems in a rapidly changing world. The course deals with the ways human societies use, degrade and protect the environment. What are the socio-political and economic structures that determine the exploitation of natural resources? When, where and by whom are the decisions taken? How do considerations of justice, sustainability and resilience influence resource use and conservation? How are resources managed and who will benefit from these resources? Who is responsible for resource management? And above all, what can we do about it? 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 human-environment interactions.

Course Objectives

  1. Acquire theoretical and practical knowledge in the field of environment and development;
  2. Develop interdisciplinary insights in environmental and developmental problems and their solutions;
  3. Improve understanding of contemporary debates on environment and development;
  4. Practice and evaluate general academic skills.

Mode of Instruction

The course uses a mix of lectures, working groups, and excursions.


Exam: 30%
Presentation and proposal: 60%
Assignments: 10%
Excursions: optional


Required Reading:
Roe, D & J. Elliott (eds). 2010. The Earthscan Reader in poverty and biodiversity conservation. London: Earthscan (375p)

Background literature:
Borrini-Feyerabend, G. et al. 2004. Sharing power: learning by doing in co-management throughout the World. Tehran: IIED & IUCN/CEESP/CMWG.

Additional required reading is indicated per session in this syllabus, and will be made available in the course website on Blackboard.

Contact Information

Course Convenor: Jan van der Ploeg
Contact Information: ploegjvander@fsw.leidenuniv.nl
Room: 6C01, Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, Leiden

Weekly Overview

Week 1: Introduction
1. Nature & poverty
2. Protected areas

Week 2: People-centered approaches
3. Community-based natural resource management
4. Payments for Environmental Services

Week 3, 4 & 5: Project design
5. Project design (1): problem tree analysis
6. Excursion WNF (Zeist)
7. Project design (2): logical framework approach

Week 6: International development
8. Indigenous peoples
9. Excursion Triodos Bank (Zeist)

Week 7: Policy
10. Rights based approaches
11. Policy narratives

Week 8: Evaluation
12. Excursion IUCN-NL (Amsterdam)
13. Exam

Preparation for first session