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Society and environment

The course "Man, society and nature" is a part of the joint master programme "Sustainable development" between Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Uppsala University. Its main objective is to present different social science perspectives on management of sustainable development. That is, how do social science disciplines approach and conceptualise sustainable development, and which strategies for promoting sustainable development are suggested? The course covers different disciplines such as law, economics, political science, business administration, psychology, and philosophy, which are discussed and applied to a number of different environmental and sustainability issues of concern in various parts of the world.

The time frame for this course is decided in an overall programme plan, and may change from year to year. If you are not an attendee of this programme, but still want to take the course, please contact the course leader for up to date information.

Course evaluation

The course evaluation is now closed

HU0002-20207 - Course evaluation report

Once the evaluation is closed, the course coordinator and student representative have 1 month to draft their comments. The comments will be published in the evaluation report.

Additional course evaluations for HU0002

Academic year 2022/2023

Society and environment (HU0002-20161)

2022-11-01 - 2023-01-15

Syllabus and other information

Litterature list

**Literature List HT2022 Society & Environment 2022-23 **

The literature list is divided by course theme and within each theme divided into:

  • Required reading for seminars, practicals and assignments
  • Supplementary reading for deeper knowledge and understanding

Systems Thinking for Sustainable Development – Weeks 1-2

Required reading:

  1. Meadows, D. (2008) Thinking in systems. A primer. Earthscan: Chapters 1 – 4 & 7 
  2. Walker B & Salt D (2006) Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World. Island Press. Chapter 4 

Supplementary reading:

  1. Armitage, D.R. et al. (2009) Adaptive co-management for social–ecological complexity. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 7, 95–102. 
  2. Berkes F & Ross H (2016) Panarchy and community resilience: sustainability science and policy implications. Environmental Science and Policy 61: 185-193 
  3. Biggs R et al (2012) Toward Principles for Enhancing the Resilience of Ecosystem Services. Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour. 37:421–48. (pdf) 
  4. Burns D & Worsley S 2015. Chapters 1 to 3 in Navigating Complexity in International Development 
  5. DeCaro et al. (2017) Legal and institutional foundations of adaptive environmental governance. Ecology and Society 22(1):32 
  6. Dennis Meadows on the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Limits to Growth. 7pp.
  7. Fath B et al (2015) Navigating the adaptive cycle: an approach to managing the resilience of social systems. Ecology and Society 20(2): 24. (pdf) 
  8. Holling CS (2001) Understanding the Complexity of Economic, Ecological, and Social Systems. Ecosystems 4: 390–405 (pdf) 
  9. Levin K, Cashore B, Bernstein S, Auld G (2012) Overcoming the tragedy of super wicked problems: constraining our future selves to ameliorate global climate change. Policy Sci 45:123–152 
  10. Nemec, K. T., et al. (2013) Assessing resilience in stressed watersheds. Ecology and Society 19(1): 34.
  11. Peterson H.C. 2013. Sustainability a Wicked Problem. Ch. 1 In Ermias Kebreab (ed) Sustainable Animal Agriculture. (pdf) 
  12. Sharpe, B., et al. (2016) Three horizons: a pathways practice for transformation. Ecology and Society 21(2):47. 
  13. Ticotsky A. (2012) Three Things to Remember About Behaviour-over-time Graphs. Creative Learning Exchange
  14. Walker, B.H. et al. (2009) Resilience, adaptability, and transformability in the Goulburn-Broken Catchment, Australia. Ecology and Society, 14(1). 

Transformations Weeks 3-4

Required reading:

  1. Arora-Jonsson, S. (2013) Gender, development and environmental governance: theorizing connections. Ch 1 pages 1-12 & Ch 2 pages 15-41 
  2. Damiens FLP, Porter L & Gordon A (2022) The politics of biodiversity offsetting across time and institutional scales. Nature Sustainability 170:170–179 (for session 23 Nov) 
  3. Agyeman, J., 2016. 58. Sustainability. In Keywords for Environmental Studies (pp. 186-189). New York University Press. (for session 22 Nov) 
  4. Alaimo, S., 2012. Sustainable this, sustainable that: New materialisms, posthumanism, and unknown futures. Pmla, 127(3), pp.558-564. (for session 22 Nov) 
  5. Read pages 1-3; 5-13 of: Miller, C., Sarewitz, D. and Light, A., 2008. Science, technology, and sustainability: Building a research agenda. Science, 319(5862), pp.424-434. (for session 22 Nov) 

Supplementary reading for specific sessions:

  1. Pascual U et al (2022) Summary for policymakers of the methodological assessment of the diverse values and valuation of nature of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). (for 15 Nov) 
  2. Cooper CB et al (2021) Inclusion in citizen science: The conundrum of rebranding. Science 372: 1386-1388. (for session 15 Nov) 
  3. Oliver et al (2018) Overcoming undesirable resilience in the global food system. Global Sustainability 1, e9, 1–9. (for 17 Nov) 
  4. Cuadra, M. and Rydberg, T. 2006. Emergy evaluation on the production, processing and export of coffee in Nicaragua. Ecological Modelling, 196 421-433 (for 17 Nov). 

Supplementary reading across sessions:

  1. Bennet et al., 2016. Bright spots: seeds of a good Anthropocene Front Ecol Environ 2016; 14(8): 441–448, doi:10.1002/fee.1309 
  2. Blythe J et al (2018) The Dark Side of Transformation: Latent Risks in Contemporary Sustainability Discourse. Antipode 50: 1206-1223 
  3. Brand U & Wissen M (2018) What kind of transformation? The Imperial Mode of Living as a Major Obstacle to Sustainability Politics. GAIA 27:287-292 (pdf) 
  4. Otto et al 2020. Social tipping dynamics for stabilizing Earth’s climate by 2050. PNAS 117(5) 2354-2365 (+ comments) 
  5. Sharpe, B., et al. (2016) Three horizons: a pathways practice for transformation. Ecology and Society 21(2):47. 
  6. Wamsler et al. 2020. Enabling new mindsets and transformative skills for negotiating and activating climate action: Lessons from UNFCCC conferences of the parties 
  7. Mistry & Berardi 2016. Bridging indigenous and scientific knowledge. Science 352:1274 - 1275 
  8. Morgan, S., & Bailey, K. (2013). Sustainable futures: Futures studies and food supply systems. In: Researching Sustainability: A Guide to Social Science Methods, Practice and Engagement, 209-224. 
  9. Brondizio & Tourneau 2016 Environmental governance for all: Involving local and indigenous populations is key to effective environmental governance (pdf) 
  10. Robbins P (2007) Lawn people - How grasses, weeds and chemical make us who we are. Temple University Press. 

Economics Weeks 5 - 6

Required reading:

  1. Johnson, M.P. and Schaltegger, S., 2020. Entrepreneurship for sustainable development: A review and multilevel causal mechanism framework. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 44(6), pp.1141-1173 
  2. Hahn, T (2014). Green Economy, economic growth and sustainable development. pp. 338-357 in Palmer, H. (ed.), Access to Resources: an urban agenda. AADR Art Architecture Design Research. ISBN 978-3-88778-419-5. (pdf) 

Supplementary reading:

  1. Rees, W.E. (2020) Ecological economics for humanity’s plague phase. Ecological Economics 169 106519 
  2. Daly, H. (2019) Growthism its ecological economic and ethical limits (pdf) 
  3. Daly, H. Economics for a full world. (pdf) 
  4. Hickel & Kallis 2019. Is Green Growth Possible? New Political Economy 
  5. Hickel J (2018) The Nobel Prize for Climate Catastrophe – Foreign Policy
  6. Norgaard, R. (2015) The Church of Economism and Its Discontents. (pdf) (also available at
  7. Oswald A & Stern N. (2019) Why are economists letting down the world on climate change?
  8. Söderbaum, P. (2013) Ecological economics in relation to democracy, ideology and politics Ecological Economics 95: 221**–**225 
  9. Vadén et al 2020. Decoupling for ecological sustainability: A categorization and review of research literature. Environmental Science and Policy.
  10. Vadén, et al., 2020. Raising the bar: on the type, size and timeline of a ‘successful’ decoupling, Environmental Politics 112: 236- 244. DOI: 10.1080/09644016.2020.1783951 

For Students who prefer watching videos to reading:

Kate Raworth gives a dynamic overview of her book Doughnut Economics here

*Ida Kubiszewski on what is wrong with GDP and emerging alternatives here *

International Development

Required reading:

  1. Hickel, J. (2018) The Divide: Global Inequality from Conquest to Free Markets: Chapters 1 and 9 (pdf) 
  2. Burns D & Worsley S (2015) Chapter 9 in Navigating Complexity in International Development (pdf) 
  3. Hickel, J. (2019) The Scandal of British Aid.

Supplementary reading:

  1. Vonk (2017) Reverse Robin Hood: The Historical Scam of Global Development - Los Angeles Review of Books (pdf) 
  2. McClosky (2016) The Formula for a Richer World: Equality, Liberty, Justice - The New York Times (pdf) 
  3. Mistry & Berardi 2016. Bridging indigenous and scientific knowledge. Science 352:1274 - 1275 

Book club Week 50-51


Tsing AL (2017) The mushroom at the End of the World - On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins (160 SEK)


O’Brien, K. (2021) You Matter More Than You Think: Quantum Social Change For a Thriving World. CCHANGE Press Oslo Norway

Scenario Planning Assignment Week 1-2 2023

Required reading:

  1. Meadows, D. (2008) Thinking in systems. A primer. Earthscan: Chapters 5 and 6 
  2. Bishop P., A. Hines & T. Collins. (2007) The current state of scenario development: an overview of techniques. Foresight 9 (1): 5-25.

Supplementary reading:

  1. Agrimonde-Terra (2016): Foresight land use and food security in 2050 
  2. Merrie et al (2018) Radical ocean futures-scenario development using science fiction prototyping. Futures 95: 22-32 
  3. Öborn et al. (2013) Scenario development as a basis for formulating a research program on future agriculture: a methodological approach Ambio 42:823-839. DOI 10.1007/s13280-013-0417-3 
  4. Röös et al 2022. Agroecological practices in combination with healthy diets can help meet EU food system policy targets 
  5. Svenfelt et al. (2019). Scenarios for sustainable futures beyond GDP growth 2050. Futures. 111, 1-14.
  6. Vandenbroeck, P. 2021. Exploring the future: four ways to combine furure scenarios with causal-loop diagrams.

Course facts

The course is offered as an independent course: No The course is offered as a programme course: Master's Programme in Sustainable Development Tuition fee: Tuition fee only for non-EU/EEA/Switzerland citizens: 18340 SEK Cycle: Master’s level (AXX)
Subject: Sustainable Development
Course code: HU0002 Application code: SLU-20207 Location: Uppsala Distance course: No Language: English Responsible department: Department of Ecology Pace: 80%