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43700-01 - Lecture with practical courses: Perspectives of Economics on Sustainability 3 CP

Semester spring semester 2019
Course frequency Every spring sem.
Lecturers Vera Calenbuhr (, Assessor)
Content The lecture is offered within the scope of the trans-faculty 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 and alwasy 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, C.
The topic "Food and Sustainability" serves as an integration focus for the entire TQ NE and,
thus, also for this lecture.

The lecture builds on the 10 basic rules of economics (following the text book of Mankiw & Tayler) as well as models and scenarios of societal development, i.e.: Malthus; the relation between soil, income and food; the limits to growth. Moreover, the lecture covers the economic perspective of sustainable development (e.g. the 3-pillar-model, the concepts of efficiency, consistency and sufficiency. Finally, it presents 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);
- Developing countries: agricultural vs. technological development paths?
- Global: who profits from fairtrade-products?
- Global: do modern financial sector products lead to more hunger?
- Global: what is the impact of foreign land acquisition (aka land grabbing) on the economic situation of the indigenous population?
- Global: 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 ressource 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 subsystems. This approach helps to better understand the basic assumptions underlying economic models.
Learning objectives 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.
Bibliography 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)
Comments Exceptionally, the lecture starts on Saturday, 23.02.19 and takes place from 09.15 - 13.00h (!!!) (this first week the class on Friday does NOT take place. Instead, four hours are taught on Saturday).

Regularly, the lecture takes place on:
01.03. & 02.03.19; 22.03. & 23.03.19; 05.04. & 06.04.19; 26.04. & 27.04.19; 10.05. & 11.05.19; 24.05. & 25.05.19 (= exam day).
Friday classes always from 14.15 - 16.00h; Saturday classes from 11.15 - 13.00h (exception on 23.02.19, details see above).

Practical course
Each student has to attend four sessions of a practical course (each 90 minutes; dates
according to the announcement). The groups are organized together with the enrolled students at the beginning of the teaching period.
Location: Vesalianum, Vesalgasse 1, 2nd floor, meeting room 02.03a (modifications will be

Extra certificate
Students who successfully complete all four classes of the TQ NE can apply for an additional
certificate at the end of their studies (your final diploma incl. Transcript of Records must be available). Please send an email to, with details of fullname, student number, postal address.

MSD 2017
Credit points may be transferred to the "Focal Areas of Sustainability Research" module (Learning Agreement), unless you have a Bachelor Degree in Economics and Business (CP of this lecture C cannot be recognized for the MSD curriculum).

This course is offered by the trans-faculty program "Sustainable Development" (TQ NE) & MSD,
Dr. Vera Calenbuhr holds a teaching assignment.


Admission requirements Students are supposed to study at least in their 3. semester (of Bachelor) or higher.
Language of instruction English
Use of digital media No specific media used


Interval irregular
Date 23.02.2019 – 25.05.2019
Time See details

Starts on Sa 23.02.19: 09.15 - 13.00h; further information regarding timetable see "comments".

Date Time Room
Saturday 23.02.2019 09.15-13.00 Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät, Auditorium
Friday 01.03.2019 14.15-16.00 Bernoullistrasse 30/32, kleiner Hörsaal 120
Saturday 02.03.2019 11.15-13.00 Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät, Auditorium
Friday 22.03.2019 14.15-16.00 Bernoullistrasse 30/32, kleiner Hörsaal 120
Saturday 23.03.2019 11.15-13.00 Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät, Auditorium
Friday 05.04.2019 14.15-16.00 Bernoullistrasse 30/32, kleiner Hörsaal 120
Saturday 06.04.2019 11.15-13.00 Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät, Auditorium
Friday 26.04.2019 14.15-16.00 Bernoullistrasse 30/32, kleiner Hörsaal 120
Saturday 27.04.2019 11.15-13.00 Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät, Auditorium
Friday 10.05.2019 14.15-16.00 Bernoullistrasse 30/32, kleiner Hörsaal 120
Saturday 11.05.2019 11.15-13.00 Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät, Auditorium
Saturday 11.05.2019 13.15-15.00 Juristische Fakultät, Seminarraum S5 HG.54
Friday 24.05.2019 14.15-16.00 Bernoullistrasse 30/32, kleiner Hörsaal 120
Saturday 25.05.2019 11.15-13.00 Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät, Auditorium
Modules Grundkurse (Transfakultäre Querschnittsprogramme im freien Kreditpunkte-Bereich)
Vertiefungsmodul Global Europe: Umwelt und Nachhaltigkeit (Master's Studies: European Global Studies)
Assessment format proof of course participation
Assessment details Regular attendance of lecture and practical course; written examination: Saturday, 25.05.19 (location and schedule as usual).
Assessment registration/deregistration Reg./dereg.: course registr./cancel registr. via MOnA
Repeat examination no repeat examination
Scale 1-6 0,1
Repeated registration as often as necessary
Responsible faculty University of Basel
Offered by Archäologie / Humangeographie / MSD