• Class Number 6202
  • Term Code 3260
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Lorrae Van Kerkhoff
    • Chalaka Fernando
    • Dr Steven Lade
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/07/2022
  • Class End Date 28/10/2022
  • Census Date 31/08/2022
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/08/2022
    • Alexander Cox
    • Ben Gleeson
    • Xolile Ncube
SELT Survey Results

Twenty-five years on from the first call for sustainable development, we are still struggling with fundamental questions surrounding what it is, how we can usefully characterise it and, most importantly, how to actually achieve it. In this course we critically examine the concept of sustainable development, explore its history, and analyse the present-day challenges it presents. Drawing on international case studies in both developed and developing countries, as well as global initiatives, we investigate the goals of sustainability as they relate to environmental, social and economic goals.

Students are introduced to a range of viewpoints, theories and frameworks useful for thinking about and understanding social and environmental change in the context of sustainable development. We explore a range of contemporary sustainability issues, at local, national and global scales. Using case studies and problem-based learning, students draw connections and apply concepts and techniques that may help inform practical solutions and shape our collective future. 

Note: Graduate students attend joint classes with undergraduates but are assessed separately.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Describe an advanced understanding of the current principles and practice of sustainable development as it is manifested at local, national and global levels.
  2. Recognise, understand and explain the complexity of linkages between drivers, pressures, impacts and responses for contemporary sustainable development challenges, and critically evaluate related interventions.
  3. Draw on current theories and science to anticipate future trajectories and apply recognised principles to guide sustainable development decision-making.
  4. Apply sophisticated research, writing and presentation skills to complex issues

Recommended student system requirements 

ANU courses commonly use a number of online resources and activities including:

  • video material, similar to YouTube, for lectures and other instruction
  • two-way video conferencing for interactive learning
  • email and other messaging tools for communication
  • interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities
  • print and photo/scan for handwritten work
  • home-based assessment.

To fully participate in ANU learning, students need:

  • A computer or laptop. Mobile devices may work well but in some situations a computer/laptop may be more appropriate.
  • Webcam
  • Speakers and a microphone (e.g. headset)
  • Reliable, stable internet connection. Broadband recommended. If using a mobile network or wi-fi then check performance is adequate.
  • Suitable location with minimal interruptions and adequate privacy for classes and assessments.
  • Printing, and photo/scanning equipment

For more information please see https://www.anu.edu.au/students/systems/recommended-student-system-requirements

Staff Feedback

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

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, tutorial groups and individuals

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


Please note that assessment due dates and return of assessment dates for Assessment Items 1-3 will vary depending on which case study students elect to focus on under each task. Students who are unsure of their due dates for these assessment tasks are advised to confirm this with their tutor. 

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Lectures will be recorded and made available weekly. Whole group discussion times will be available Tuesdays 2-3pm. Lectures will focus on the case studies, and include key issues, theories and debates. Often, the second lecture of the week will include a presentation by a guest lecturer addressing the case study. Tutorials commence in Week 2. For 2022 students who are on campus will be expected to attend classes in person. Students who are remote will join classes offered online through Zoom. Tutorials are two hours in length and students will be asked to choose one from several options, available on Wattle in Week 1. The first come, first served principle applies. Adjustments may need to be made depending on the numbers of remote students. Each week’s tutorial has a different theme and structure as outlined in the schedule below. We treat tutorials as forums where you can discuss any matters of interest or concern about the course content.
2 Weeks 1-2 Intro, welcome DPSIR model Led by: Professor Lorrae van Kerkhoff
3 Weeks 3-4 Case Study 1: Africa Population, poverty and food security in Africa Resilience Led by: Dr Steven Lade
4 Weeks 5-6 Case Study 2: Pacific Climate change and migration in the Pacific Environmental and social justice Led by: Professor Lorrae van Kerkhoff
5 Teaching break: 6-17 September
6 Weeks 7-8 Case Study 3: South Korea Green energy and economic growth, South Korea Consumption and ‘green growth Led by: Professor Lorrae van Kerkhoff
7 Weeks 9-11 Case Study 4: Global governance, SDGs Global governance and the Sustainable Development Goals Global governance & State capability COVID and sustainable development Led by: Chalaka Fernando
8 Week 12 Close Ways Forward Led by: Professor Lorrae Van Kerkhoff

Tutorial Registration

Via MyTT

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Case study reflection 15 % * * 2,4
Case study Quiz 15 % * * 1,2, 3
DPSIR Analytical report 35 % * * 2,3
Sustainable development goals essay 35 % 28/10/2022 18/11/2022 1,3,4

* 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.


Beside our general expectations that you will review lectures and join in-person and online tutorials and participate actively in them, you are also required to complete all assessment items. If you are having trouble with assignments or meeting deadlines, speak to your tutor, the course convener, or the Fenner 1st year coordinator early.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 15 %
Learning Outcomes: 2,4

Case study reflection

The student must complete all of assessment tasks 1, 2, and 3, but can choose which one they do for each case study.

This assessment item applies to one of the three regional case studies, student chooses which one.

Due: 11:59 pm Friday one week after completion of that case study.

These dates are:

Case study #1 :26 August

Case study #2: 9 September

Case study #3: 7 October

Each reflection is worth 15% of your total mark

Word limit: 1000 words

Drawing on the material from the case study write a short reflection on what you learned about the key concept for that case by answering three of the following questions:

For case study 1: Food security, poverty and population in Africa

1.      The core concept explored in this case study is ‘resilience’. Why do you think resilience has become such a popular concept?

2.      Having examined the issue of food and water security through the lens of resilience, how might you apply the idea to your own efforts to achieve sustainability in daily life?

3.      Give another example of where the idea of resilience may apply to sustainable development challenges. Why is this a useful concept here?

4.      In your view, what are some of the limitations of resilience as it applies to complex sustainable development challenges?

For case study 2: Climate change and migration in the Pacific

1.      The core concept explored in this case study is ‘justice’. Why do you think justice has become such a important concept in relation to climate change?

2.      Having examined the issue of climate change through the lens of justice, how might you apply the idea to your own efforts to achieve sustainability in daily life?

3.      Give another example of where the idea of justice may apply to sustainable development challenges. Why is this a useful concept here?

4.     In your view, what are some of the limitations of justice as it applies to complex sustainable development challenges?

For case study 3: Green economy and economic growth in South Korea

1.      The core concept explored in this case study is ‘green economy’. Why do you think the idea of the green economy has been promoted by the United Nations?

2.      Having examined the issue of economic development through the lens of the green economy, how might you apply the idea to your own efforts to achieve sustainability in daily life?

3.      Give another example of where the idea of the green economy may apply to sustainable development challenges. Why is this a useful concept here?

4.      In your view, what are some of the limitations of the green economy as it applies to complex sustainable development challenges?

Assessment criteria

Your reflection will be assessed on the extent to which it demonstrates:

  • Depth of understanding of key concepts the key issues
  • Demonstrated engagement with the case study materials and ideas
  • Honest and personal account of learning
  • Correct and appropriate referencing

Assessment Task 2

Value: 15 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2, 3

Case study Quiz

This assessment item applies to one of the three regional case studies, student chooses which one.

Due: 11:59 pm Friday on completion of that case study.

These dates are:

Case study #1 :19 August

Case study #2: 2 September

Case study #3: 30 September

Each quiz is worth 15% of your total mark

There are 15 multiple choice questions, drawn from the case study core readings.

The quiz is open book, and must be completed within 48 hours of the closing of that case study (see dates above).

Assessment criteria

  • Each correct answer is worth 1 mark.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 35 %
Learning Outcomes: 2,3

DPSIR Analytical report

Worth 35% of your final mark

Due date: Your assignment is due at 11:59pm on the Friday two weeks after the conclusion of that case study. Remember you only need to complete this report for one of the three case studies.

These dates are:

  • Case study #1 : 2 September
  • Case study #2: 16 September (end of teaching break)
  • Case study #3: 14 October

Word length: 2500 words

NOTE that reference list, text in tables, charts, figures or captions ARE NOT included in the word count, in text citations e.g. (van Kerkhoff 2014) ARE included.

Choose ONE of the three two week case studies (Case study 1, 2 or 3) as the subject for your report.

Drawing on core and optional case study materials, lectures, guest lectures and your own research, write an analytical report that applies the DPSIR framework presented in lectures and discussed in tutorials to:

  • describe the sustainable development challenge,
  • unpack the challenge into component parts
  • use the related key concept to evaluate proposed or in train responses in relation to the underlying causes of the challenge

The analytical report must include the following components. These could be used as sub-headings to structure the report.

INTRODUCTION: Introduce the sustainable development challenge (topic) in your own words.

DPSIR ANALYSIS: Describe, in your own words, the Driving forces; Pressure(s); State(s); Impact(s); and Response(s).

EVALUATION: using the key concept discussed in relation to the challenge, evaluate whether the responses demonstrate progress towards sustainable development.

Assessment criteria

Your analytical report will be assessed on whether and to what extent it demonstrates:

  • Integrated understanding: does your report integrate the course materials (lectures, readings, tutorial activities) in order to explicitly address the task? (20%)
  • Links and analysis: does your report use the DPSIR framework effectively to analyse the challenges, rather than just describe them? Is the analysis supported by evidence? Are links clear? (30%)
  • Critical interpretation of materials and original contribution: does your report demonstrate your own interpretation of materials, and originality in your evaluation and judgements? (30%)
  • Clear organization, expression and referencing: Are your ideas effectively presented, including visual impact, effective use of diagrams, logical flow, grammar, clarity and conciseness of writing? Are references consistent, adequate and correct? Consult the Fenner Guide to referencing on Wattle if uncertain - especially the example List of References on the last 2 pages). (20%)

Assessment Task 4

Value: 35 %
Due Date: 28/10/2022
Return of Assessment: 18/11/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,3,4

Sustainable development goals essay

Worth 35% of your final mark.

Due: 11:59pm 28 October 2022

Word length 2500 words

NOTE that reference list, text in tables, charts, figures or captions ARE NOT included in the word count, in text citations e.g. (van Kerkhoff 2014) ARE included. Footnotes are not permitted.

In this essay you must answer the following question:

“Do the SDGs represent a positive example of global governance towards sustainable development?”

You should attempt to integrate concepts and ideas covered within the course. The essay must be written from an international perspective, but must also refer specifically to (undergraduates) two examples (or postgraduates) 4 examples of your own choice from the 'News' items in the UN SDGs web site https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/news/  or The International Institute for Sustainable Development SDG new https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/news/ . Analysis of examples may consider the linkages between the global SDGs program and their local implementation.


There is no set structure for this essay. There are numerous ways to approach this topic and all are valid as long you keep to the general conventions of an essay (introduction, conclusion and a body composed into logically split paragraphs). The guidance found at http://www.anu.edu.au/students/learning-development/writing-assessment/essay-writing will be the basis for assessing the structure and approach of the essay.

Assessment Criteria

Please refer to the course Wattle site for a detailed rubric.

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

There are no hardcopy submissions.

Late Submission

Late submission permitted. 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

Via the course Wattle site.

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 of assignments 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).

Prof Lorrae Van Kerkhoff

Research Interests

Prof Lorrae Van Kerkhoff

By Appointment
Chalaka Fernando

Research Interests

Chalaka Fernando

Dr Steven Lade

Research Interests

Dr Steven Lade

Alexander Cox

Research Interests

Alexander Cox

Ben Gleeson

Research Interests

Ben Gleeson

Xolile Ncube

Research Interests

Xolile Ncube

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