• Class Number 9799
  • Term Code 3060
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery Online
    • Dr Glenn Althor
    • Prof Saul Cunningham
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 27/07/2020
  • Class End Date 30/10/2020
  • Census Date 31/08/2020
  • Last Date to Enrol 03/08/2020
SELT Survey Results

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

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

  1. Identify, explain and apply the theoretical foundations of a series of society-environment related issues.
  2. Critically explore the links within and between key themes and issues in sustainability and environment-society interactions.
  3. Discuss a variety of disciplinary perspectives on current issues, across political science, economics, law, human ecology and the humanities.
  4. Critically analyse and articulate the role of science in decision-making, including policy and practice.
  5. Interpret and communicate the implications of current research for decision-makers.

Research-Led Teaching

Every second week is a live panel led by experts in a wide range of fields relevant to sustainability. The co-conveners will also use their own research experiences to support students learning

Required Resources

Required resources will be posted weekly on the Wattle site.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • Convenor's written comments on all Assessment items, all of which are returned to students

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

To enhance learning and to access a wider array of perspectives, and to complete Assignment 1 and 2, students are required to attend at least 3-5 seminars, public lectures, conference presentations, etc outside the course and to report on the research and ideas presented at 3 of them.

The scope of what these seminars are about is wide, but the report needs to connect what is presented to the themes of this course: environmental policy and management for sustainability outcomes.

Students should begin looking for seminars early, most obviously by checking the following events websites:


http://fennerschool.anu.edu.au/news-events/events (and look at the Fenner Newsletter each week, as some seminars listed there are not on the external News & Events webpage)








Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction, discussion of assessment and deadlines, class reps. note that assessment 3 requires weekly contributions
2 workshop with live panel of experts
3 workshop on contemporary issues
4 workshop with live panel of experts
5 workshop on contemporary issues Assessment 1 due Friday 5pm
6 workshop with live panel of experts
7 workshop on contemporary issues Assessment 2 due Friday 5pm
8 workshop with live panel of experts
9 workshop on contemporary issues
10 workshop with live panel of experts
11 workshop on contemporary issues
12 Course conclusion and summary Assessment 4 due Friday 5pm

Tutorial Registration

There are no separate tutorials for this course.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Learning Outcomes
Briefing reports from your attendance at research presentations outside course contact hours (task 1 of 2) 10 % 28/08/2020 1,2,3,4,5
Briefing reports from your attendance at research presentations outside course contact hours (Task 2 of 2) 20 % 25/09/2020 1,2,3,4,5
Weekly worksheets 25 % * 1,2,3,4,5
Research synthesis report 45 % 30/10/2020 1,2,3,4,5

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using 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. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Students are expected to participate and contribute on an on-going basis throughout the semester. Assessment 3 includes engagement in the weekly workshops.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 28/08/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Briefing reports from your attendance at research presentations outside course contact hours (task 1 of 2)

Overview: Produce a written report based on attending several research-based presentations (online), relevant to environmental policy or management - outside of course contact hours. Seminars should pertain to research, where results are presented but also relevant to environmental policy or management, i.e. not purely biophysical. Lectures given for another course are not acceptable unless given by a special, outside guest researcher. Evening presentations about government policies by ministers or officials, or Climate Cafe, are not ideal because they tend not to present research results.

Word limit: 350 words – excluding reference list and event details (title, speaker's name, speaker's affiliation, host institution, date).

Task: You are required to attend at least three hour long seminars or presentations (four or five would be better), and produce a written report based on one of them. Templates are provided on Wattle for the expected layout.

Your reports will need to:

1.     Summarise the presentation content in terms of main results presented or arguments made (dot points are fine, as long as their meaning is clear), and its relevance to society-environment linkages generally or to more specific environmental policy and management.

2.     Distinguish between existing knowledge; research results presented (which must be reported); the presenter's opinions; and audience questions asked and speaker's answers. E.g. use phrases like "Smith presented evidence that", "Smith's view was that", "an audience member queried whether", as appropriate. Copying text from the seminar publicity without using quotation marks is plagiarism. 

3.     A reference list with at least two citations. E.g. the speaker's recent paper or report, key papers/reports mentioned by the speaker, a web link to conference slides or abstracts. References found from sources not mentioned in the seminar talk are not expected. You are not expected to conduct original research for these seminar reports!

Purpose: This assignment has been designed to encourage you to independently seek out and synthesize policy relevant, environmental research results from sources other than the peer reviewed literature. These skills are relevant in many knowledge based professions and commonly practised by government, industry, and academic professionals. Seminar attendance and synthesis are key opportunities to gain and share new knowledge in a condensed format, and provide opportunities to network with peers in your area of interest.

Return: Marked assignements will be returned within 3 weeks from submission.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 25/09/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Briefing reports from your attendance at research presentations outside course contact hours (Task 2 of 2)

Overview: As per assignment 1. 

Word limit: 350 words per report (700 words total) – excluding reference list and event details (title, speaker's name, speaker's affiliation, host institution, date).

Task: The task of this assignment is the same as assignment 1, but requires you to submit a written report based on two additional seminars. Additionally, you will be expected to incorporate feedback from Assignment 1. Templates are provided on Wattle for the expected layout.

Note seminar attendance is not additional to the seminars you attended for assignment 1 – you are only expected to attend three to five in total across assignments 1 and 2.

?Return: Marked assignements will be returned within 3 weeks from submission.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 25 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Weekly worksheets

Overview: Attend ten ENVS8016 workshops (online), and complete and upload written material based on weekly activities for each, prior to workshop attendance. Workshops will be based on five sets of topics, each focusing on a different contemporary environmental issue.

Due date: Written material based on weekly activities are due weekly, prior to each workshop.

Word limit: Dependent on worksheets, no more than 150 words expected per week.

Task: This is the core component of the course and is integrated across ten weeks. It will involve ten workshop sessions spread across five topical areas. Each of the five topics will entail:

·       a guided discussion with a guest lecturer,

·       in class discussion sessions with each other (and Saul and Glenn),

·       and the completion of written materials based on activities (including readings, watching video material, and other related tasks) prior to each workshop.

o  This written material will be used to guide discussion sessions, so you must bring it to each session in printed or electronic form.

Activity sheets and associated class discussion are worth 2.5% of total marks each. Attendance in all workshops is not mandatory but non-attendance will make it difficult to achieve full marks.

Purpose: The workshop sessions are primarily designed to encourage critical thinking about complex environmental and social issues, via reading, writing, and discussion. By completing activities prior to classroom time, you will come to the classroom with a baseline of knowledge and be able to actively participate in discussions. This will facilitate more complex thinking and learning than a standard lecture format allows for. You will also have the opportunity to hear from, and openly discuss a range of issues, with an accomplished and diverse group of guest speakers. As such, these workshops will utilise student, lecturer, and guest lecturer ideas and knowledge to explore and draw out the complexity of environmental and social issues.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 45 %
Due Date: 30/10/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Research synthesis report

Word limit: 3000 words, excluding the References list, but including in-text citations, tables, figures, and captions.

Task: You are expected to produce a research synthesis report suitable for a senior, non-specialist decision maker (government, private sector or NGO). The report will pertain to a topic of your choice, which has been pre-approved by either Saul or Glenn. Generally, the topic will relate to one of the topical areas covered in the workshops, with further readings and research beyond set readings. However, you can explore any topic or theme within the realm of environmental policy or management.


As stated above, your report must be suitable to present to a senior, non-specialist decision maker. You will present a general understanding of the nature of recent research in the field, the main issues and arguments involved, and how the research is (or is not) relevant to debate or decision making concerning one or more major sustainability issues. While it is expected that this report will be readable and clear to a non-specialist, it must be a referenced, rigorous summary of recent literature


A typical report will contain: your title, u-number (but not your name), date and word-count at the start; a description of the discipline/sub-discipline or field of research (no more than 1/4 of the length); a summary of major themes covered in the literature, supported by references (about half the total length); a commentary on the relevance to policy and decision making (about a quarter of the length); and an accurate list of all References cited in the text.

The most weight in marking the report will be given to the coverage of the literature and the ability to convey what the literature says, but significant weight will also be given to presentation and clarity of writing (generally avoid dot points, as these often lead to vagueness), to the linking of the literature to policy making, and to the adequacy and use of references.

Return: Marked assignements will be returned within 3 weeks from submission.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Assignments will be returned either by email or via Wattle.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

Resubmission is not permitted.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Dr Glenn Althor
+61 2 6125 4882

Research Interests

Dr Glenn Althor

Prof Saul Cunningham

Research Interests

Ecology, Conservation, Agriculture, Biodiversity,

Prof Saul Cunningham

By Appointment

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions