737314 Land use and global change: Socio-ecological interactions

Lecture and seminar
Semester hours
Lecturer (assistant)
Erb, Karlheinz , Haberl, Helmut
Offered in
Wintersemester 2021/22
Languages of instruction


Land use is a pervasive driver of global environmental change, considerably contributing to climate change, biodiversity loss, soil degradation and many other ecological detriments. But at the same time, land ecosystems provide key resources to society such as food, fuel and fiber, including powerful means to mitigate climate change, thus representing a key fundament of food security and human well-being. The course introduces the scientific field of land system research in the context of sustainability science and Social Ecology. It presents the basic conceptual approaches to socio-ecological land system research, such as the concepts of ‘social metabolism’ and ‘colonization of ecosystems’ with a particular focus on their contribution to prevailing research frontiers related to global change and land use. The course introduces indicator frameworks for assessing socioecological dimensions of land use, explores approaches on the nexus of land use and climate change, as well as land use and biodiversity. A central topic are systemic interrelations such as trade-offs in the global land systems, with a particular focus on the potentials and caveats that relate to land-based climate change mitigation. In the seminar, socio-ecological approaches to land system science are presented and, based on seminal research articles and influential reports, students analyze and present insights into current mainstream in research including prevailing research frontiers.

Objective (expected results of study and acquired competences)

After successful completion of the course:
•students know the basic concepts, theories and methods of land use research and the central contributions of "social ecology" and its application in sustainability research.
•students have a basic understanding of global land use and its relationship to environmental challenges in the context of sustainable development.
•Students develop skills in applying and critically reflecting social-ecological concepts and methods in land-system science.
•Have achieved improved abilities to critically read, analyze and interpret current academic literature, policy documents and assessment reports and participate in related discussions in a constructive and well-informed manner
You can find more details like the schedule or information about exams on the course-page in BOKUonline.