UN3330: Ecological and Social Systems for Sustainable Development | R. Defries

Sustainable Development
Undergraduate and Graduate Lecture
MW 6:10-7:25PM

The course provides an overview of the complex relationships between ecological and social systems. The course focuses on basic principles in understanding these relationships. After the students are introduced to these basic concepts, the course will focus on three current topics central to Sustainable Development for in-depth study. The emphasis is on the multiple perspectives – environmental, social and economic – required to understand and develop solutions to problems in sustainable development. The three topics are: conservation of biodiversity, payments for ecosystem services, and the ecology of food production. We expect these topics to vary from year to year to keep pace with current topics. The following areas will be covered:

  • What is an ecosystem?
  • How are social and ecological systems linked through the flow of energy and materials?
  • What are the characteristics of coupled human-natural systems? How do these systems function?
  • What are the current topics in sustainable development that require understanding of social and ecological systems?
  • For each topic (protection of biodiversity, ecosystem services, ecology of food production), what are the environmental, economic, and social perspectives important for sustainable solutions?
  • How can critical thinking be applied to balance these perspectives to derive sustainable solution?
  • Data analysis and approaches to analyze ecosystems and options for sustainable development.

Prerequisites: SDEV W2300 Challenges of Sustainable Development; EESC W2330 Science for Sustainable Development.

Link to Vergil
Note: only courses offered during the two previous semesters have active Vergil links.