Think Green: Ecological and Economic Perspectives for a Sustainable Environment

Verbredende minor
10 weken
Minor hoort bij de opleiding
Liberal Arts and Sciences


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, as we are living in an era of unprecedented human impact over nature and resources, where the technological revolution brought us to a point where it may seem that our daily lives are not directly connected to natural laws.

The students will acquire knowledge to understand, prevent, mitigate and remediate environmental problems and to create sustainable (and remunerative) solutions with the aim to reduce our impact/ecological footprint on Earth. With this new understanding or eco-literacy 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 Sciences, The Economics of Sustainability, and Bio-based Economy (as a sustainable solution to merge environmental sustainability and business) will be implemented in a holistic and integrated manner. The modules are designed in an interactive and active learning format (problem-based learning) and have a strong “hands-on” approach, with links to real case-studies in Rotterdam and in the Netherlands.

The Minor is open to 3rd year students with a background in life sciences, economy and/or social sciences.
The content is of special relevance to future green business managers, environmental economists, conservation and environmental scientists, social scientists, ecologists, designers, planners and entrepreneurs that will work for the transition from a fossil-based to a bio-based economy.

Learning objectives 

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

  • understand the principles of ecosystem organization and functioning, environmental sustainability and resilience;
  • analyse and estimate the impact of environmental problems on natural ecosystems;
  • identify approaches to mitigate and reduce environmental issues;
  • 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 conceptualisation and operationalisation 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), materials (including bioplastics), biotechnology, waste processing and agriculture;
  • start thinking in systems by acquiring the basic principles of industrial ecology and regenerative cities.

Special aspects

  • Open to max 40 students max
  • The teaching method includes problem-based learning (PBL) sessions, lectures and workshops
  • The Minor requires a full-time dedication: we discourage the students to enrol supplementary courses running in the same period
  • The attendance to PBL sessions and workshops is strictly mandatory
  • Apart from the mandatory sessions, attendance to lectures is highly suggested, and a considerable amount of self-study during each week is needed (28-30 hours on average);
  • The Minor will follow the EUR calendar; therefore it will start on 30th August 2021 with a mandatory session on PBL educational system.

Overview content per week

The standard week planning includes:
- Three PBL sessions, one per module. Each PBL sessions is further divided into a discussion phase and a reporting phase. Each PBL session lasts 2h30’ and its attendance is mandatory.
- Three lectures, one per module. Each lecture lasts 1h45’.
- Self-study for the PBL reporting phase and the assignments.

Some of the topics which will be covered during the Minor are:
- Biomasses and biorefineries
- Circular economy
- Transition economy
- Population regulation and dynamics
- Policy for sustainability
- Green energy and biofuels
- Climate change
- Environmental ethics

Overview minor modules

  1. Biobased Economy
  2. Environmental Sciences
  3. The Economics of Sustainability

Module 1: Biobased Economy

  • Code: LSC310
  • EC: 5
  • Content: 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 raw material and biotechnological/industrial processes used to convert these resources into (new) biobased products, to 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 methods: Lectures given by experts in the field, PBL (problem-based learning) sessions, blue-economy workshops at BlueCity (Rotterdam)
  • Teaching materials: Book chapters, academic articles, scientific reports
  • Contact hours: 4,5 hours per week.
  • Self study: 9,5 hours per week.

Module 2: Environmental Sciences

  • Code: LSC316
  • EC: 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, students will learn how to diagnose the severity of a variety of environmental problems and to generate plans to mitigate environmental problems.
    Among the outcomes, students will be able to identify and apply the main ecological principles of sustainability, identify ecosystem services, and develop an appreciation of urban ecology through direct experience with local ecosystems.
  • Teaching method: Lectures (interactive seminars) and PBL (problem-based learning) sessions.
  • Teaching materials: Book chapters, scientific articles
  • Contact hours: 4,5 hours per week.
  • Self study: 9,5 hours per week.

Module 3: The Economics of Sustainability

  • Code: ECB313
  • ECTS: 
  • Content: The Economics of sustainability course will cover the following aspects and topics:

- The theoretical conceptualisation and operationalisation of sustainability in Economics;

- Circular economic structures and sustainable business models;

- Systems thinking for sustainability;

- Economic growth vs. sustainable development;

- Transition to sustainable cities;

- Green energy and climate change;

- Demographic dynamics, income inequality and sustainability.

  • Teaching method: Lectures and PBL (problem-based learning) sessions.
  • Teaching materials: Academic papers, scientific reports, policy documents.
  • Contact hours: 4,5 hours per week.
  • Self study: 9,5 hours per week.


Method of examination
The method of examination will include:
1. A final written exam, covering the content of the three modules;
2. Final assignments, one per module;
3. Professional behaviour. In order to maintain the professional behaviour unaffected, a student can skip one mandatory session per module only.

The final grade will be calculated by combining the single grades of these components.

Composition final grade

The composition of the final grade will include the combination of these individual components:

  • A final written exam: 45%. The final written exam will cover the content of the three modules;
  • Final assignments: 45% in total. Each single module has a final group assignment. The final assignment grade will merge the grades of each single assignment (15% each).
  • Professional behaviour: 10%. In order to maintain the professional behaviour unaffected, a student can skip one mandatory session per module only.

Constant feedback to students will be provided throughout the Minor. In particular, feedback will be given:

  • At the end of each PBL session;
  • After each assignment’s deadline (outline and draft(s));

Frequently asked questions


Contact information

Dr. Sergio Mugnai
06 302 99 792
room: 3rd floor EUC

Faculty website

Verbredende minor
10 weken
Minor hoort bij de opleiding
Liberal Arts and Sciences
Erasmus University College
Studiepunten (EC)


Please read the application procedure for more information. 

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