• Offered by Fenner School of Environment and Society
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Environmental Science
  • Academic career Postgraduate
  • Course convener
    • Dr John Pezzey
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2018
    See Future Offerings

As society grapples with the challenges of sustainability in the face of social, economic and environmental change, it is important that future leaders and decision makers are well informed about the most up-to-date, relevant research.  In this course you will engage with experts undertaking leading-edge research on a range of current issues in sustainability and environment-society interactions, and will consider applications of this knowledge to future research directions, policy development and environmental and resource management. The application of this knowledge internationally and in Australia will be considered through the frameworks of the Millennium Development Goals (and their successors), the 'safe and just living space for humanity' concept, the UNEP Global Environment Outlook, and the Rio+20 The Future We Want outcomes including the emerging Sustainable Development Goals.  The course also offers the opportunity to develop an in-depth understanding of the implications of current research insights relevant to a particular issue of your choice.  Examples of themes considered include

• sustainability and sustainable development

• climate adaptation and mitigation policy

• consumption and behaviour

• disaster management

• environmental economics

• environmental humanities

• environmental policies and institutions

• global environmental governance and international trade law

• urbanisation and urban systems

The course is structured as a series of intensive, small-group discussions based on preparatory reading.  These intensive discussions are led by experts in the field and focus on exploring the most up-to-date research and thinking on each theme from a variety of perspectives, with particular emphasis on relevance to your experience and professional interests.  You are also expected to draw on the extensive and varied opportunities to learn from world-leading experts available at the Australian National University and across Canberra, by attending and reporting on relevant seminars, workshops and other forms of research communication external to the course.

Learning Outcomes


On satisfying the requirements of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to: 


1. Identify, explain and apply the theoretical foundations of a series of society-environment related issues. (LO1)

2. Critically explore the links within and between key themes and issues in sustainability and environment-society interactions. (LO2)

3. Discuss a variety of disciplinary perspectives on current issues, across political science, economics, law, human ecology and the humanities. (LO3)

4. Critically analyse and articulate the role of science in decision-making, including policy and practice. (LO4)

5. Interpret and communicate the implications of current research for decision-makers. (LO5)




Indicative Assessment

  • Briefing report on engagement with research communication outside course contact hours (e.g. seminars attended) - 800 words (25%) [LO 1-5]
  • Presentation and briefing note that critiques a policy or governance proposal (25%) [LO 1,2,4]
  • Research report on self-selected topic relevant to the themes of the course - 3000 words (50%) [LO 1-5]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


26 contact hours comprising tutorials, seminars and workshops.  In addition students are required to attend approximately 12 hours of relevant seminars, conference presentations, workshops or similar events external to the course (e.g. at other areas of ANU, CSIRO or government departments); and to undertake approximately 80 hours self-directed study.

Prescribed Texts

Recommended Reading:  

These readings provide overall context for the course.  Additional, advanced reading material will be required for each specific theme studied.

Griggs, D, Stafford-Smith, M, Gaffney, O et al. (2013) Sustainable development goals for people and planet, Nature 495, 305-307, doi:10.1038/495305a

Lindenmayer, D, Dovers, S, and Morton, S (2014) Ten Commitments Revisited: Securing Australia’s Future Environment. CSIRO Publishing.

Raworth, K (2012) A Safe and Just Operating Space for Humanity. Oxfam Discussion Papers, Oxford: Oxfam. http://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/dp-a-safe-and-just-space-for-humanity-130212-en.pdf

United Nations (2012) The Future We Want: Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Outcomes of the Conference. A/CONF.216/L.1. New York: UN.

UNEP (2012) Global Environment Outlook GEO5: Environment for the future we want. Nairobi: United Nations Environment Program.

Assumed Knowledge

The following courses are complementary and would assist you in this course, however the course is wide-ranging and a professional and/or academic background in environmental studies, politics, environmental policy, geography or similar would enable students to engage with the course material:  ENVS6025 Addressing Complex Environmental Problems, ENVS6306 Human Futures, ENVS8003 Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation, ENVS8015 Contemporary Perspectives in Environmental Science.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Band 2
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings and Dates

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery
8416 23 Jul 2018 30 Jul 2018 31 Aug 2018 26 Oct 2018 In Person

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