“Planetary boundaries and human opportunities” gives students an overview of a range of emerging concepts within sustainability science, like the Anthropocene, planetary boundaries, and resilience. These concepts are at the core of contemporary research and debate on global sustainability.
A thriving global society, now and in the future, depends on the stable functioning of the Earth System and its resilience – including the atmosphere, oceans, forests, waterways, biodiversity and biogeochemical cycles. Unfortunately, scientific evidence indicates that human influence has altered Earth System processes to a point that we have begun transgressing planetary boundaries that have kept civilization safe for the past 10,000 years. Humans are now the most significant driver of global change, potentially propelling the planet into a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. In this new situation, unsustainable patterns of production, consumption, and population growth are challenging the resilience of the planet to support human activity. The fundamental question is how our societies can develop in a just and safe way within the planet’s boundaries.
This course aims at expanding and updating participant’s ‘conceptual toolbox’ in matters of global sustainability. Upon successful completion, a participant will be able to demonstrate a clear understanding of key concepts on global environmental change and their theoretical underpinning, as well as an up-to-date understanding of current debates in the global sustainability arena and emerging examples of approaches and solutions currently being developed.