Sustainability and Environmental Change


Course Objective

In this course students learn about the environment’s pivotal role in
achieving sustainable solutions for human development, mainly focused on
global environmental problems. After this course, students:
1. can explain key concepts from the natural sciences relevant for the
study of sustainability;
2. can characterize key components of the environment, namely water,
land and atmosphere, and can explain key processes affecting their
3. can explain the role of the environment in socio-environmental
4. can identify methods to quantify the state of the environment, and
analyze environmental change;
5. can perform SWOT derived from the environmental conditions for
specific sustainability challenges.

Course Content

The environment plays a crucial role in supporting societies, for
example by providing materials, energy, food, clean air, and clean
water. Environmental conditions change over space and time, influenced
by both natural and human factors. In this course students learn about
the environment’s pivotal role in achieving sustainable solutions for
human development. Starting from the key environmental components water,
land and atmosphere, we characterize environmental change and how that
leads to other environmental and societal changes. Methods to assess
environmental change are addressed and students identify for their
specific case studies what strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, and
threats are associated to the ‘planet dimension’. The course comprises
interactive lectures and exercises and is evaluated through an
assignment and a written exam.

Teaching Methods

The course is organized in thematic weeks, which provide students with
an understanding of the specifics of the dimensions water, land and
atmosphere, how these can be studied and how they interact. Each week
has 1 to 2 lectures, in parallel to which students develop their
assignment. Lectures (H) and assignment are supported by in-class
discussions (W), reading material, and exercises.
Lectures (H) 15-20h
Workshops (W) 15-20h
Assignment ~45h
Self study ~80h

Method of Assessment

The course will be evaluated through
1) Assignment (A): SWOT analysis in Planet domain for personal
case in the form presentation & working paper (30% of final grade)
2) A closed-book written exam (E) (70% of final grade).
- An overall minimum grade of 5.5 is required to pass the course.
- A minimum grade of 5.0 for the exam is required to pass the course.
- There is one resit opportunity for the exam (typically in April).
- Assignments with a grade lower than 5.5 can be improved once, after
which the maximum grade that can be obtained
for the assignment is 6.0.


The course builds on a series of selected articles, relative to the
lecture content. Required and recommended readings are listed at the
learning environment.
Moreover we make use of:
- Open data sources, educational software packages, websites, videos etc

Target Audience

The course is primarly aimed at students following the minor
Sustainability: Global Challenges,
Interdisciplinary Solutions, but is open to all 3rd year BSc students.

Additional Information

The course is coordinated by Dr. Ted Veldkamp and Dr. Ziga Malek
Core lectures:
- Dr. Ted Veldkamp
- Dr. Ziga Malek
- Prof. Guido van der Werf
complemented by guest lectures.

General Information

Course Code AB_1230
Credits 6 EC
Period P1
Course Level 300
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator T.I.E. Veldkamp MSc
Examiner T.I.E. Veldkamp MSc
Teaching Staff dr. A.J.A. van Teeffelen
T.I.E. Veldkamp MSc
prof. dr. J.C.J.H. Aerts
prof. dr. ir. P.H. Verburg
prof. dr. G.R. van der Werf

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar, Lecture
Target audiences

This course is also available as: