CPT832 - Theories and Principles of Sustainable Development

SchoolCardiff School of Planning and Geography
Department CodeCPLAN0
Module CodeCPT832
External Subject CodeK450
Number of Credits20
Language of DeliveryEnglish
Module Leader Dr Andrea Collins
SemesterAutumn Semester
Academic Year2015/6

Outline Description of Module

This module provides a theoretical base from which to analyse sustainable development. It examines different theoretical and practical uses of the terms sustainability and sustainable development. The module is organised around three themes. The first theme provides an analysis of the contested nature of sustainable development. The second theme reviews key actors and ideas that contribute to sustainability debates. The third theme examines selected strategies by which more sustainable societies might emerge. It also analyses key issues in the governance of sustainable development.

On completion of the module a student should be able to

How the module will be delivered

The module will be delivered by a combination of:

Lectures and seminars are supplemented by Powerpoint presentations (slides will be available in Learning Central) and handouts. Key readings used in teaching sessions will also be available in Learning Central before the session in which they are to be discussed. During seminars you may be required to lead or contribute to a debate/discussion. 

Teaching will take place over 4 days (up to @6 hours per day), and will be a combination of lectures and seminars.

Skills that will be practised and developed

Academic/subject-specific skills:

Students will be expected to demonstrate skills of critical analysis through an ability to:

·         identify key issues and relationships;

·         critically evaluate various approaches—for example, ecological modernisation, bioregionalism to sustainable development, and to distinguish the merits and weaknesses of strong and weak versions of sustainable development;

·         application of sustainability thinking to a range of policy and thematic contexts

Transferable/employability skills:

Students will practice and develop the following:

1.    Data collection skills – including qualitative data, data collection and synthesis using databases, web and other sources

2.    Use language accurately and communicate information efficiently and effectively

3.    Process large quantities of information rapidly

How the module will be assessed

There will be three summative assessments, and this will be supported by weekly formative assessment involving the analysis of key readings.

Essay 75%
Presentation 25%

The opportunity for reassessment in this module

Students are permitted to be reassessed (usually once) in a module which they have failed, in line with course regulations. The reassessment will be the failed element(s) of the module, and will usually take place during the summer.

Assessment Breakdown

Type % Title Duration(hrs) Period Week
Written Assessment 75
Critical Review Essay
N/A 1 N/A
Written Assessment 25
N/A 1 N/A

Syllabus content

Theme 1: Sustainable Development: core meanings and contestations

Introduction to the module: How development became unsustainable

Seminar:Sustainability Science

Sustainable development: Genealogy, contestation the practical value of a contested concept

Seminar: Sustainability and Cities

Theme 2: Ideas

Seminar: Sustainable consumption

Seminar: Utopianism and sustainable development

Seminar: Nature, culture and science

Preparation for assessed work 1 (critical review essay, conference poster and presentation)

Environmental ethics: intra and inter-generational issues

Anthropocentrism Vs Ecocentrism: the role of deep ecology

Seminar: self-positioning on sustainable development

Theme 3: Sustainable development: Strategies

Bioregionalism: an introduction

Seminar: guided reading on Bioregionalism

Seminar: Transition towns

Economics and the environment

Seminar: Weak and strong sustainable development

Environmental democracy or participatory managerialism? The ‘carrying’ of sustainable development

Seminar:The participatory challenge;

(Re)positioning on sustainable development

Essential Reading and Resource List

Blake, J. (1999) Overcoming the ‘value-action gap’ in environmental policy: Tensions between national policy and local experience, Local Environment, 4 (3), pp.257-278.

Brangwyn, B. and R. Hopkins (2008) ,Transition Initiatives Primer – becoming a Transition Town, City, District, Village, Community or even Island. Transition Network.

Carter N (2007) The Politics of the Environment, (2nd edn),Cambridge University Press

Collins, A. J. (2004) can we learn to live differently? Lessons for Going for Green: a case study of Merthyr Tydfil (South Wales, International Journal of Consumer Studies, 28 92) pp.202-211.

Hediger, W. (1999) Reconciling ``weak'' and ``strong'' sustainability, International Journal of Social Economics, 26 (7/8/9), pp. 1120-1143.

Kates, R. W. et al (2000) Sustainability Science, KSG Working Paper Number 00-018, JF Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

Komiyama, H. and K. Takeuchi (2006) Sustainability science: building a new discipline. Sustainability Science, 1, pp1-6.

Lahsen, M. (2005) Technocracy, Democracy, and U.S. Climate Politics: The Need for Demarcations, Science, Technology, & Human Values, Vol. 30 No. 1, Winter 2005 137-169

Lipschutz, R. D. (1998) Bioregionalism, civil society and global environmental governance. In: M. V. McGinnis (ed.) Bioregionalism. London: Routledge. (Chapter 6, pp101-120).

Manns, J. P. (2008) Eco-towns, New Labour and sustainable residential development, People, Place and Policy Online, 2/3, pp132-139.

Miele, M. (2011) The taste of happiness: free-range chicken, Environment and Planning A, 43, 2076-2090

O'Riordan,T and Jordan, A (1995) The Precautionary Principle in Contemporary Environmental Politics, Environmental Values, 4 (3), pp.191-212.


Rose, S. (2009) A Town Called Eco: What notions of sustainable development do the government’s proposed eco-towns embody?. CSERGE Working Paper EDM 09-05, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia.

Sassen, S. and N. Dotan (2011) Delegating, not returning, to the biosphere: How to use the multi-scalar and ecological properties of cities. Global Environmental Change, 21, pp823-834.

Scott Cato, M. (2007) Climate Change and the Bioregional Economy. In: A. Cumbers and G. Whittam (eds.) (2007) Reclaiming the Economy: Alternatives to market Fundamentalism in Scotland and Beyond. Glasgow: Scottish Left Review Press (Chapter 3).

Shove, E. (2003) Converging Conventions of Comfort, Cleanliness and Convenience. Journal of Consumer Policy, 26, pp.395-418.

Smith, J., Blake, J., Grove-White, R. Kashefi, E., Madden, S. and S. Percy (1999) Social learning and sustainable communities: An interim assessment of research into sustainable communities projects in the UK, Local Environment, 4 (2), pp.195-207.

Turner, R K (1992) Speculations on weak and strong sustainability. CSERGE Working Paper GEC 92-26, Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment, University of East Anglia and University College London.

Background Reading and Resource List

Callenbach, E. (1978) Ecotopia, London: Pluto Press. 

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