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43700-01 - Vorlesung mit Übungen: Perspectives of Economics on Sustainability 3 KP

Semester Frühjahrsemester 2022
Angebotsmuster Jedes Frühjahrsem.
Dozierende Vera Calenbuhr (vera.calenbuhr@unibas.ch, BeurteilerIn)
Inhalt The lecture is offered within the scope of the transfaculty cross section program "Sustainable Development (TQNE)". The program consists of 3 introductory lectures with practical course (lecture A and B offered in fall semesters; this lecture is C, offered in spring semesters) dedicated to conveying the foundations of sustainable development. An additional integrative seminar (D, offered in spring semesters) engages with interdisciplinary work. The assignment and completion of D requires the successful completion of two lectures from A, B, or C.
The topic "Food and Sustainability" serves as an integration focus for the entire TQ NE and, thus, also for this lecture.

The present lecture on the economic perspective of sustainability starts with an introductory section on the discipline of economics building on the 10 basic rules of economics following the text book of Mankiw & Tayler.
Moreover, the course presents and discusses various aspects of producing and consuming food including the challenge of malnutrition and hunger from the perspective of economics, i.e. understanding the driving forces that govern peoples's and socities' decisions and behaviour.

A.o., the course covers the following topics e.g.
- the relation between income and societal development; concepts of development and sustainable development and related indicators (GDP, Human Development Index); the capabilities approach;
- the economic perspective of sustainable development (e.g. the 3-pillar-model, strong and weak sustainability);
- the relation between income and nutritional state incl. hunger.
- the concepts of food security and water security
- challenges on the path towards sustainable development.

Numerous case studies help to provide an understanding of key issues and trade-offs:
- Industrial countries: increase of productivity through intensive agriculture vs. decrease of biodiversity and increased pressure on the environment;
-Threshold countries: the links between economic growth, increased income, - increased protein consumption (in particular increased meat consumption), increased pressure on the environment (in particular increased emission of greenhouse gases);
- Low-income countries: agricultural vs. technological development paths?
- Global: Who profits from fairtrade-products? Do modern financial sector products lead to more hunger? What is the impact of foreign land acquisition (aka land grabbing) on the economic situation of the indigenous population? What are the costs of providing clean water? Are consumers paying an appropriate price for water? Discussion of water management systems. Is there a commoditisation of the resource water?

The lecture content also includes national and international political initiatives and scenarios conceived for facing food system challenges in the coming 20-30 years.

On top of the economic perspective, the lecture will take a systems perspective investigating the roles of system boundaries, relevant time scales, as well as the interaction of (nested) subsystems. This approach helps to better understand the basic assumptions underlying economic models.
Lernziele The scientific field of economics analyses the allocation of resources in a society. The objectives of the course are to
a) provide the basic knowledge for understanding the food system, and
b) to discuss what a sustainable food system means,
from an economic perspective. This includes discussing the question whether ending hunger is equivalent to achieving a sustainable food system.
Literatur The lecture uses many online resources and original scientific literature. Hence, there is no need to acquire a text book.

Nonetheless, interesting books on the related subjects include the following:
. "Introduction to Ecological Economics". CRC Press (2014) (the book introduces the new perspective towards ecological economics)
N. Gregory Mankiw und Mark P. Taylor. "Economics" Cengage Learning, 2014 (3rd Edition) (economics text book)
Bemerkungen Practical course (tutorials):
Each student has to attend four sessions of group work under the supervision of a tutor (each 90 minutes). Group details tba at the beginning of the course.

Extra certificate
Upon completion of the entire program (Transfaculty Cross Section Program Sustainable Development) and the enrolled degree program at the University of Basel students may order an additional certificate. For this purpose students send an email to coordination-msd@unibas.ch, attach their official final degree transcript (= list of all attended courses) and put their address. The certificate will be sent by postage.

MSD 2017
Credit points may be transferred to the "Focal Areas of Sustainability Research" module (learning agreement), unless you have a Bachelor's Degree in Economics and Business or you have attended a class with similar content earlier (then the CP of this lecture C cannot be recognized for the MSD curriculum).

This course is offered by the transfaculty cross section program "Sustainable Development" (TQ NE) & MSD. Dr. Vera Calenbuhr holds a teaching assignment.


Teilnahmebedingungen Students are supposed to study at least in their third semester (bachelor level) or higher.
Anmeldung zur Lehrveranstaltung Course enrollment on MOnA should be completed by the beginning of the teaching period
(withdrawal possible until Monday of week five).
Unterrichtssprache Englisch
Einsatz digitaler Medien kein spezifischer Einsatz


Intervall wöchentlich
Datum 24.02.2022 – 02.06.2022
Zeit Donnerstag, 16.00-18.00 Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 119
Datum Zeit Raum
Donnerstag 24.02.2022 16.00-18.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 119
Donnerstag 03.03.2022 16.00-18.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 119
Donnerstag 10.03.2022 16.00-18.00 Uhr Fasnachtsferien
Donnerstag 17.03.2022 16.00-18.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 119
Donnerstag 24.03.2022 16.00-18.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 119
Donnerstag 31.03.2022 16.00-18.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 119
Donnerstag 07.04.2022 16.00-18.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 119
Donnerstag 14.04.2022 16.00-18.00 Uhr Ostern
Donnerstag 21.04.2022 16.00-18.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 119
Donnerstag 28.04.2022 16.00-18.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 119
Donnerstag 05.05.2022 16.00-18.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 119
Donnerstag 12.05.2022 16.00-18.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 119
Donnerstag 19.05.2022 16.00-18.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 119
Montag 23.05.2022 16.00-18.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Seminarraum 212
Donnerstag 26.05.2022 16.00-18.00 Uhr Auffahrt
Donnerstag 02.06.2022 16.00-20.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 114
Module Grundkurse (Transfakultäre Querschnittsprogramme im freien Kreditpunkte-Bereich)
Vertiefungsmodul Global Europe: Umwelt und Nachhaltigkeit (Masterstudium: European Global Studies)
Leistungsüberprüfung Leistungsnachweis
Hinweise zur Leistungsüberprüfung Regular attendance of lecture and practical course.
Final presentation: details to be announced in January 2022
Written examination: details to be announced in January 2022
An-/Abmeldung zur Leistungsüberprüfung An-/Abmelden: Belegen resp. Stornieren der Belegung via MOnA
Wiederholungsprüfung keine Wiederholungsprüfung
Skala 1-6 0,1
Wiederholtes Belegen beliebig wiederholbar
Zuständige Fakultät Universität Basel
Anbietende Organisationseinheit Departement Umweltwissenschaften