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Facets of Sustainability

Target

The target of the module is to impart the general knowledge in and the interest for the natural sciences and contemporary politics.
The educational aims of the module are:                              
Familiarity with the natural resource flow as carbon cycle, phosphorus cycle and urban hydrology of the earth`s ecosystems along general lines.                                        
“Ecological numeracy” , becoming familiar with the key data, for example the distribution of population across continents and their growth trends, statistical reach of fossil fuel resources, per capita energy and water consumption in different parts of the world. Skills to acquire in the course are the capability of estimating the key data in broad strokes and to perform computations with it. The knowledge of international political efforts to promote sustainability and the basic understanding of different disciplinary approaches towards operating the concept of sustainability should be improved.
The course imparts an overview of global sustainability deficits, e.g. climate change, atmospheric ozone depletion, depletion of water, forest and soil resources, loss of generic diversity, habitat fragmentation and persistent organic pollutants with a revisiting of their natural science foundations. The part of human activities and metropolitan areas in creating theses deficits – historical, at present and in future scenarios - should be reflected as well as the question how sustainability was perceived over the last centuries.                          
Classics of sustainability literature like Carson, Club of Rome, Malthus and Lomborg will be discussed in the course, interdisciplinary and disciplinary approaches for the analysis of the sustainability theme are aspired. Another issue to be raised are sustainability politics – guiding principles and action plans the world has come up with, at international, national and local levels.

Task

The students have to deliver a semester work. Regular participation in the lecture is expected as well as one of the following tasks: Successful completion of a student report, oral presentation or take-home written exam.