Minor Think Green: Ecological and Economic Perspectives for a Sustainable Environment (EUC)

Summary

Category
Broadening minor
Minor code
MINUC003

Programme which has the coordinating role for this minor:

Erasmus University College (EUC)

Other programmes which are contributing to the minor:

N/A

Access:

Bachelor-3 students See toelatingsmatrix

Content

We live in an era of unprecedented human impact over nature and resources. The technological revolution and globalization brought us to a point in time where it may seem that our daily lives are not directly connected to natural laws, yet we have also recently reached the awareness of this misconception.

This minor is designed to provide the students with information and analytic skills that are necessary to understand the complex issues that challenge our ability to develop sustainable systems now and in the future. The students will acquire knowledge to understand, prevent, mitigate and remediate environmental problems and to create interdisciplinary sustainable solutions. With this new understanding the students will be able to think critically and take up environmental sustainable decisions, which may include transforming environmental problems into business solutions. In order to reach these goals, three modules of 5 EC each on environmental science, economics of sustainability and bio-based economy (as a sustainable solution to merge ecology and business) will be implemented in a holistic and integrated manner.

The three modules are designed in an interactive and active learning format (problem-based learning) in the essence of Liberal Arts and Sciences that characterises EUC. This ‘hands-on approach’ is further consolidated by the application of acquired knowledge to case-studies from Rotterdam and the Netherlands.

The minor is intended for students interested in green business management and entrepreneurship, ecology, conservation and environmental science, social sciences, environmental economics, economic sustainability, media and communication, and urban planning.

Learning objectives 

After completing this minor, the students will be able to:

  • understand the principles of ecosystem organization and functioning, environmental sustainability and resilience;
  • recognize and estimate the impact of environmental problems on natural ecosystems, and be able to establish a plan to assess, mitigate and reduce them;
  • have a clear picture of the concepts of green growth and resource dependencies/reutilization, including the recycling and cascading of biomass;
  • be familiar with the theoretical conceptualization and operationalization of sustainability in Economics;
  • understand how circular economic structures can be created;
  • be acquainted with institutions, policies, governance and regulations for a sustainable economy;
  • have a proper knowledge of the recent technological developments in the service of sustainability in the fields of energy (including biofuels), chemistry, materials (including bioplastics), biotechnology, waste processing, pharmaceuticals and agriculture.

Specific characteristics

  • English proficiency C1 is required;
  • Together with traditional weekly lectures, Problem-Based Learning (PBL) mandatory meetings will be held;
  • Field trips and site visits will be scheduled in order to enable the students to witness the practical application of the contents studied.

Organisation

Maximum number of students that can participate: 36 (3 PBL groups per each module)
Minimum number of students that can participate: 8

Contact hours: 129 hours (including field trips)

Study hour: The total workload will be 420 hours. This includes:

  • Attendance to the lectures: 42h
  • Mandatory participation to the PBL meetings: 63h
  • Field trips: 24h
  • Self-study for the PBL meetings: 144h
  • Preparation for the assignments: 72h
  • Exam preparation: 72h
  • Final written exam: 3h

Overview modules

Module 1: UNDERSTANDING OUR ENVIRONMENT

  • Code: TBD
  • ECTS: 5
  • Content: Ecosystems provide us with natural resources as well as with several services, such as air and water purification, nutrient cycling, climate regulation, plant pollination and waste recycling. The future of the coming generations depends on our ability to understand the environmental impacts of our actions and to generate effective solutions that can prevent, mitigate and remediate our ecological footprint. In this module, the students will learn how to identify, diagnose and evaluate the severity of a variety of environmental problems. After completing this module, the students will be able to identify and calculate ecosystem services and to generate plans to reduce, mitigate and remediate environmental problems.
  • Teaching method:Lectures and PBL meetings
    • Teaching materials:  Textbooks and scientific articles
    • Contact hours:
      • PBL meetings: 21 hr (7 x 3 hr)
      • Lectures: 14 hr (7 x 2 hr)  
      • Field trips: 8h

Module 2: THE ECONOMICS OF SUSTAINABILITY

  • Code: TBD
  • ECTS: 5
  • Content: The dramatic changes of the last century on the global scale in social, technological and environmental spheres put sustainability at the top of the international political agenda. The objective of this module is to provide students with an introduction to various approaches to the intersection of economics and sustainability. They will be motivated to think theoretically and practically on how to redesign current economic structures focusing on production, distribution and consumption to create a more sustainable world in the 21st century. The theoretical conceptualization and operationalization of sustainability in Economics is a necessity to understand current changes in the global scale.
    The linear economic structures which are “take, make, dispose” models of production are replaced with circular economies to avoid resource waste and pollution. Institutions, policies and regulations, and continuous technological innovations play a vital role in realizing these new economic models. Green energy systems, which are introduced as a remedy for the problems of climate change, exemplify such technological innovations. Demographic dynamics is another dimension next to ecological concerns that should be addressed by coordinated actions at the international level for a sustainable future.
  • Teaching method:Lectures and PBL meetings
    • Teaching materials:  Textbooks and scientific articles
    • Contact hours:
      • PBL meetings: 21 hr (7 x 3 hr)
      • Lectures: 14 hr (7 x 2 hr)  
      • Field trip: 8h

Module 3: Biobased economy

  • Code: TBD
  • ECTS: 
  • Content: This module aims to introduce the students to the emerging concept of the "bio-based economy". Sustainable development requires the maintenance of the factors that support life and human societies, and depends on an environmental-sustainable economic growth. In this context, biotechnology offers technological solutions for supporting sustainable development by improving the environmental efficiency of primary production and industrial processing, thus leading to an emerging bio-based economy with a significant share of economic output. The bio-based economy involves three distinct elements: biotechnological knowledge, renewable biomass, and the integration across applications. In order to achieve these goals, bio-based economy follows holistic approaches in order to consider ecological, economic, and social concerns and integrate them for the purpose of sustainable solutions. This module will therefore examine the entire value chain of bio-based products: from the production of raw material to biotechnological/industrial processes used to convert these resources into (new) biobased products, such as biofuels and bioplastics, until the marketing and consumption of such products. The students will also deal with the environmental, social and economic dimensions of the bio-based economy from a micro- and a macro-level perspective, taking innovation, institutions and policies into account.
  • Teaching method:Lectures and PBL meetings
    • Teaching materials: Textbooks, scientific articles.
    • Contact hours:
      • PBL meetings: 21 hr (7 x 3 hr)
      • Lectures: 14 hr (7 x 2 hr)  
      • Field trip: 8h

Examination

Method of examination

The assessment will consist of three components: final written exam, assignments and professional behaviour. The final grade will include the combination of these three individual components.

Composition of the final grade

Written exam45 %
Assignments45 %
Attendance/ Professional Behaviour10 %

Contact information

Contact person

Name: Dr. Sergio Mugnai, PhD
E-mail: mugnai@euc.eur.nl
Phone number: 06 302 99 792
Room: 3rd floor EUC

Faculty website

Factsheet

Category
Broadening minor
Minor code
MINUC003
Organisation
Erasmus University College
Study points (ECTS)
15
Instruction language
English
Location
Erasmus University College, Rotterdam

Registration

More information follows.