• Offered by Fenner School of Environment and Society
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Environmental Science
  • Areas of interest Resource Management and Environmental Science
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Edwina Fingleton-Smith
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Second Semester 2018
    See Future Offerings

Climate change, biodiversity loss, water scarcity, waste accumulation and resource supply scarcities are converging at an unprecedented speed and scale while at the same time the development needs of large parts of the world’s population are not yet satisfied. To achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and to align social, economic and environmental objectives will require a fundamental change in production, consumption and infrastructure delivery. We explore how a better understanding of institutions and governance can inform well-designed policies that facilitate sustainable consumption and production.
In this course we explore the complex interrelationships between social, economic and political processes and the environment. We consider economic processes (consumption and production), social processes (in which economic processes are embedded) and decision-making processes and institutional arrangements including issues of participation and the potential for adaptive responses to environmental change. We review society-nature interactions in history, look at the role of population, demography and consumption in environmental change and touch upon urbanization and new middle class consumers.

The course takes a social-ecological perspective on environmental change and analyses the role of important social subsystems – the economy, the legal system, the political system and science – for steering society nature interactions.

We are interested to explore how the social relationship with nature is shaped, maintained and can be transformed. This allows us to investigate how the agency of social actors is constrained and enabled by natural and social conditions that we can address in both material and symbolic terms to inform policies and business practices that may contribute to sustainable development.

In particular, the course will address such questions as: what is the capacity of modern society to manage natural resources sustainably and to reduce emissions? What enables and constrains sustainability solutions? How can social choices to sustainability be informed by scientific knowledge? What is the role of individuals and agency? What are the key structural problems in society that need be addressed to achieve sustainable development?

Honours Pathway Option (HPO)

Subject to the approval of the course convenor; HPO students will be required to demonstrate greater depth of understanding of the content of the course. HPO students will undertake a program of advanced reading and will be required to prepare and facilitate a tutorial (equivalent to a minimum of 15% of overall assessment).  All other assessment requirements remain the same.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

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

  1. Apply ‘sociological imagination’ which enables students to situate individual choices in their social context and ‘spatial consciousness’ to acknowledge the role of space and place for social interactions and environmental relationships.
  2. Understand that societal transformation requires changes in institutions and governance arrangements that will guide and interact with behavioural change.
  3. Demonstrate a good understanding of key concepts in interdisciplinary scientific communities including human ecology, environmental sociology, environmental history, ecological economics, industrial ecology and environmental policy.
  4. Employ advanced research, writing and presentation skills.
  5. Reflect on their own learning, demonstrate high levels of information literacy, and interact with others through communication skills that include speaking, writing and facilitating small groups.

Indicative Assessment

Regular attendance and participation in class work is expected, and tutorial attendance is compulsory.  Assessment will be based on:

  • 3,000 word essay on a topic related to the course (65%) (LO 1-4)
  • 400-600 words public thought piece (15%) (LO 1-4)
  • A group presentation and planning and facilitation of group exercises (20%) (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.


36 contact hours comprising one 3 hour lecture/seminar per week. Preparation is required for weekly seminars.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 48 units towards a degree. You are not able to enrol in this course if you have completed SRES2013 or ENVS6013.

Assumed Knowledge

ENVS1001, ENVS1008




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:
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
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2018 $3660
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2018 $5160
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
8873 23 Jul 2018 30 Jul 2018 31 Aug 2018 26 Oct 2018 In Person N/A

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