GVMRES-Resilience for Sustainable Development

Module Provider: Geography and Environmental Science
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Steve Musson

Email: s.musson@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
Development is faced with significant challenges in rethinking about resilient futures amid global environmental change. In particular climate change has major consequences for governance and vulnerable livelihoods. It poses challenges to the management of extreme events and exacerbates existing problems of water scarcity and degradation of natural resources. This lecture series is concerned with these consequences. Most importantly global environmental change has implications for the lives and livelihoods of millions of people around the globe. Uncertainty surrounds the environmental stresses that interact with human vulnerability, and the knock on effect on extreme poverty.

Against this backdrop we see increasing attention paid to resilient development and to policy strategies that include mitigation and adaptation to climate change. These actions have yet to demonstrate their benefits in tackling the stress and poverty dimensions of global uncertainty. For example, mitigation schemes through the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanisms are often criticized for their failures of governance. The design of such schemes only provides benefit to single market actors while marginalizing a multitude of local actors, in particular the poorest. Meanwhile poorer communities reliant on natural resources for their livelihood are often locked into national policies, incentives and processes that continue to exacerbate the degradation of these resources. Similarly, adaptation interventions in response to climate change provide limited insights into how people should manage the interaction between ‘surprise’ events, such as flooding or cyclones, and human vulnerability. The question is whether there a trade-off between adapting/mitigating climate change and development?

‘Resilience’ has come to mean many things to many people and has raised strong opposition by some to the idea that it is possible to identify a desirable point at which societies could agree to stabilise emissions, deforestation or over fishing. In a world that is unpredictable and is marked by vulnerability and risk, people remain poor, marginalised, discriminated against and dependent on powerful elites. Yet, global environmental change offers the opportunity to rethink the way societies manage and govern ecosystems for human well being. Perhaps resilience can help scholars and practitioners to understand better how societies can continue to develop under the stresses posed by global environmental change?

The aim of this lecture series is to provide a unique and a systematic evaluation of resilience as both theoretical lens and operational concept, one through which to re-examine how varieties of development theory deals with global environmental change and uncertainty, with a particular focus on climate change and its consequences. Of particular importance is the effort to advance understanding of social change as part of the relationship between nature and society.

Assessable learning outcomes:
Ability to understand core concepts of resilience and sustainable development
Knowledge of the predominant discourses and theories in governing environmental change
An understanding of the key factors that determine the outcomes of resilience in practice in the context of global environmental change.

Additional outcomes:

Outline content:
Lecture 1: Introduction to resilience and development under global environmental change

Lecture 2: Concepts and common approaches

Lecture 3: Sustainable development and resilience

Lecture 4: Place and resilience

Lecture 5: Participation and resilience

Lecture 6: Measuring for resilience

Lecture 7: Governance and resilience

Lecture 8: Policy mechanisms and resilience

Lecture 9: Barriers and limits to resilience

Lecture 10: Rethinking resilience for development

A speaker from industry/practice will be invited to talk to give students the opportunity to engage with the issues and challenges of implementing resilient sustainable development strategies.

Global context:
The course is particularly oriented towards students that have an interest in global sustainability and the concerns of vulnerability and resilience of societies. In particular, the course links into current global debates about world development and climate change. The course will provide important insights for students who are interested in pursuing study or work in the field of global sustainability, human geography and international development.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The module is designed in the form of lecture series, but will also aim to provide an interactive space for discussion and debate within the classroom setting.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 10
Guided independent study 80
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 50
Oral assessment and presentation 50

Other information on summative assessment:
Coursework, totalling 1500 words in length. Group work with presentation at the end of the course.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Length of examination:

Requirements for a pass:
A mark of 50% overall

Reassessment arrangements:
Resubmission of coursework

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding:
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 21 December 2016

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