As the human population continues to expand and to develop the natural environment, communities and policy-makers must contend with ever-changing patterns of land use, economic development, natural resource management and environmental protection. Difficult choices often need to be made between competing uses for land and the conflicts between using the natural environment and protecting it. How can these issues be conceptualised, and how can conflicts – between aims, between individuals, between values - be reconciled? How can societies, communities and their economies fit within the natural environment to preserve the natural capital and services on which they ultimately depend?
This module examines a series of topics that lie at the policy interface between natural resources, environmental science, economic development, community design and land use, with special emphasis on the application of new ideas and theories to institutional and policy contexts from developed/developing countries and international programmes. The lectures will explore the main driving forces and implications of various public policies and private sector practices of land use with regard to global environmental problems such as tropical deforestation, biodiversity loss, sustainability, human health, and water and soil degradation.
Included in the module is an extensive introduction to the methods for modelling environmental systems and the impacts of human activity on various metrics of performance of those systems. Students are expected to gain some mastery of these mathematical models as a basis for analysing potential environmental, economic and land use policies.
The focus is on understanding how land use impacts are affected by (i) decentralized micro-economic and macro-economic decisions, (ii) the social and institutional (legal, political, etc) context of decisions, (iii) the natural processes that underlie environmental and ecological functions, and (iv) emerging international programmes, treaties and policy instruments/mechanisms. The course combines an analytical basis - both qualitative and quantitative - and a series of practical examples providing a broad overview of the main problems related to the dynamics of land use in developed and developing countries, and the correspondent recent discussion on the alternatives for sustainable development.
No prior training in mathematics is necessary, but students must be willing to learn mathematical methods for analysing environmental systems.
Full materials for the module are available on the Department of Land Economy EP09 intranet site.
The aims of this course are to:
- develop an analytical background for understanding issues on land use, land cover change, environmental protection, rights and economic development
- apply these theoretical ideas to a series of practical cases from developed and developing countries, including global programmes of governance, and
- discuss recent innovative land-use policy options and alternative strategies for sustainable land development, and their relationship to issues at the crucial nexus of climate change, water, food and energy.
Learning outcomes and skills acquisition
By the end of the course, students will:
- have an inter-disciplinary understanding of the major intellectual frameworks for analysing land use change, including financing/economics, law/politics and scientific/ecologicial (theoretical knowledge)
- be able to apply these intellectual frameworks to various topical issues facing communities, countries and policy-makers (practical application to contemporary issues)
- be able to think critically about current policy approaches to economic development, and identify what the main stakeholders stand to gain, and lose, through different strategies (design and assessment of policies and programmes).