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icono de curso

Development, Environment and Natural Resources


Credits: 4 ECTS

Second semester

Pathway core courses




A growing and globally inter-connected society entails increasing pressures on ecosystems for the extraction of both renewable and non-renewable resources, a relentless reduction in biodiversity across the world’s ecosystems, as well as an expanding use of soils, water systems, oceans and the atmosphere as pollution sinks. In response, an increasing number of policy approaches targeted at both minimizing environmental impacts and resource loss and maximizing social welfare have been put forward and implemented, which have notwithstanding generated their own problems and led to questionable policy panaceas and misguided ‘win-win’ solutions.

This course draws on political ecology to analyse contemporary development and environmental problems and solutions focusing most prominently in rural environments of the global South. Political ecology is a theoretical and methodological approach for the study of social-ecological systems that focuses on conflict, power and the uneven distribution of costs and benefits in interventions aimed at exploiting or conserving natural resources, or at accessing the biosphere as a pollution sink. The course lays first the theoretical foundations of political ecology, and subsequently explores problems like climate change, biodiversity loss, desertification, and land ‘grabs’, and their manifestation at local scales. For some of these, proposed policy solutions, including climate mitigation and adaptation programs, protected areas, or reforestation schemes are presented and discussed.


All students are expected to attend all classes and to participate actively in class (both individually and in groups). They will also be expected to work in groups and deliver three pieces of written work. Details are provided below.

  • Attendance and participation: 10%
  • Written assignments (Individual work): 25%
  • Blog or media piece for a lay audience (750 words): 30%
  • Review essay (2000 words, double-spaced, excluding bibliography): 35%

Competences, learning outcomes and teaching activities (PDF)