737306 Social ecology and sustainable development

Semester hours
Lecturer (assistant)
Krausmann, Fridolin , Haberl, Helmut , Schmid, Martin , Pichler, Melanie
Offered in
Wintersemester 2023/24
Languages of instruction


Social Ecology is an inter- and transdisciplinary research field concerned with interactions between societies and their natural environment. It integrates approaches from the natural and social sciences as well as from the humanities. The lectures present interdisciplinary perspectives on social ecology and embed it in the “landscape” of sustainability sciences. The course teaches the basics of social ecology, including the concepts “social metabolism” and “colonization of ecosystems” used to analyze society-nature interactions, as well as the sustainability challenges related to them. This provides the basis for a social-ecological perspective on global sustainability problems, their historical origins and major driving forces. The long-term development of the co-evolution of human practices and the material arrangements they use is addressed by the basic concept of “socio-natural sites”. The course introduces different strategies for social-ecological transformations and critically discusses their potentials and limitations. Themes are, among others, the development of material and energy use, land use, the decoupling of resource use and economic development, bio-economy and circular economy and degrowth and long-term legacies of human interventions.

Previous knowledge expected

Basic knowledge in interdisciplinary sustainability studies and sustainable resource use

Objective (expected results of study and acquired competences)

After the successful completion of the course
•students have gained an overview of the key theories, concepts and methods of the interdisciplinary field “Social Ecology” and their application in sustainability science.
•they have gained a basic understanding of society-nature interactions in the context of sustainable development.
•the possess competences to apply socio-ecological concepts and methods for the analysis of sustainability problems and to critically reflect on strategies of sustainable resource use.
You can find more details like the schedule or information about exams on the course-page in BOKUonline.