Global environmental problems and sustainable development
This course will introduce the students to the current debates surrounding the global environmental problems, such as climate change, transboundary air pollution, biodiversity loss, and the issues of natural resources and their use (water, etc.). In the course, we will not discuss environmental problems in isolation but view them as an element among other great social challenges of our time. Specifically, the course’s perspective is summarized by the following basic questions:
- People in the world are living under vastly different conditions in terms of income levels, etc. Given these differences, what kind of global environment should we aim for?
- How can we form a global consensus on collective actions against environmental problems? On a more practical level, what are the existing global agreements and institutions on environmental management?
- On a global scale, what kinds of environmental or resource limits are we bound by?
Given the instructor’s field of expertise, a particular attention will be paid to economic dilemmas of the global environmental problems, e.g., the needs for balancing environmental quality and poverty reduction. However, the lectures and class discussions also touch on various other aspects -- such as natural-scientific, policy (political and legal) and technological aspects -- of global environmental issues.
From a methodological standpoint, the focus of lectures will be placed on: (i) how we can formulate consistent and comparable metrics regarding global sustainable development, which often needs to deal with vague concepts (e.g., "sustainability"); (ii) how we can distinguish reliable and unreliable data, and where we can find the latter in practice; (iii) what aspects of global sustainable development are potentially quantifiable, and what are not