Course description

This is a course on the economy in society and in the biosphere focused on supporting planetary health. Even as we recognize that human well-being depends on the natural environment, we are experiencing unprecedented environmental challenges largely as a consequence of unsustainable interactions with nature based on linear systems of extraction to waste rather than regeneration. We are increasingly putting our well-being at risk through the unintended environmental consequences of modern life. Industrialization and development at the expense of natural resources, energy- and pollution-intensive food production, and an economic system that fails to account for natural capital: these are just a few examples of how we are failing to work effectively within a socio-ecological system. In this course we explore the evidence for the ways in which the natural environment supports well-being, talk about the implications for sustainability (of what to whom), identify actionable strategies for sustainability that explicitly recognize the coupled human-natural system, and challenge conventional disciplinary norms by integrating social and natural sciences for more effective decision making. We explore themes related to the essentiality of biodiversity to ecosystem services, working with nature, biophilic design, biomimicry, permaculture and multifunctional agricultural landscapes, and collaborative decision making, and identify quantitative approaches for decision making based on systems thinking and dynamics.


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6 weeks long
Registration Deadline