Grand Challenges of Human-Ecosystem Interactions

Dit vak wordt in het Engels aangeboden. Omschrijvingen kunnen daardoor mogelijk alleen in het Engels worden weergegeven.

Doel vak

The global human population is growing exponentially and the ecological
impact per capita in emerging economies is increasing which results in a
huge pressure on our natural resources as well as deterioration of our
ecosystems. The ever increasing human population affects the
interactions between humans and the ecosphere, for instance via climate
change, ozone depletion, land-use change, over yielding, biogeochemical
flows and non-sustainable management practices. We are facing grand
challenges related to the identification and quantification of planetary
boundaries that should not be transgressed to prevent unacceptable
environmental change to our planet due to human activities. Increased
human-induced pressure on our landscapes has resulted in enhanced
deforestation, desertification, eutrophication, salinization of soils
and habitat fragmentation and these negative effects have to be
mitigated to support and sustain ecosystem services for the future.
Hence, there is a strong need to increase scientific understand how
anthropogenic perturbations affect the earth system as well as our
ability to predict how further increase in the impact of humans affect
our ecosphere.

Inhoud vak

The course is designed around the grand challenges that we are facing in
a world with an ever increasing human population within the limits of
planetary boundaries. We will not try to cover the entire broadness of
grand challenges but we will discuss six selected topics that are all
closely related to our own research. We will discuss the effects of
local and global change (land use, eutrophication, pollution, climate)
on biodiversity, how we can successfully manage Earth's systems (through
e.g. integrated land management, spatial planning, nature and soil
conservation) and how we can ensure ecosystem services provision in the
future. In this course we use an interdisciplinary approach to
understand specific challenges and opportunities relating to
human-ecosphere interactions.


We will use a combination of lectures by staff members and guest
speakers, seminars, field excursions, discussion sessions, group
assignments and a group project. In small teams, students will chose a
specific casus in which they analyse one particular challenge in the
field of human-ecosphere interactions. Groups present their findings in
a symposium. Work forms are:
• Lectures
• Seminars
• Excursions
• Presentation and discussion sessions
• Self-study
• Working in groups on a research project (casus)


The course grade will be composed of two separate assessments, namely

several group assignments (35% of final grade),
a group presentation on a chosen casus (40% of final grade) and
a written exam, consisting of an essay (25%).

Vereiste voorkennis

A BSc in Earth Science or a Bsc in Biology gives admission to the course


Literature in the form of scientific articles will be provided during
the course.

Algemene informatie

Vakcode AM_1206
Studiepunten 6 EC
Periode P2
Vakniveau 400
Onderwijstaal Engels
Faculteit Faculteit der Bètawetenschappen
Vakcoördinator prof. dr. M.P. Berg
Examinator prof. dr. M.P. Berg
Docenten prof. dr. M.P. Berg

Praktische informatie

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