ESA-10309 Environmental Sciences and Society


Credits 9.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Group work15
Excursion (one day)12
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. AJH van Vliet
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. BJM van Vliet
prof. dr. AJ Murk
prof. dr. ir. G Zeeman
TE O'Connor
dr. HM Toonen
dr. ir. AJH van Vliet
prof. dr. ir. PWG Groot Koerkamp
prof. dr. PH Feindt
SM Zijlstra MSc
dr. AP Richter
Examiner(s)dr. ir. AJH van Vliet
dr. ir. BJM van Vliet
prof. dr. ir. G Zeeman
prof. dr. AJ Murk
S Nortier
dr. ir. AAM Langenhoff
prof. dr. ir. PWG Groot Koerkamp
dr. AP Richter

Language of instruction:



In order to pass this course a student is expected to do an English proficiency test. The results of this test will, however, not be used to calculate the final grade.
Environmental issues are societal issues as human activities result in environmental changes that have an unwanted impact on (parts of) society and its interaction with nature, and because solutions ask for significant adaptation in policy, social practices and in production-consumption systems. The analysis of the environmental changes, causes, beneficial and harmful impacts, and sustainable solutions requires the involvement and close cooperation of technological, natural and social sciences and various actors in society. However, cooperation and communication is not that simple as culture, language and methodologies substantially differ between the scientific disciplines and the actors.
The course demonstrates how different scientific disciplines contribute to analyzing, solving and preventing environmental problems, and to creating long lasting and sustainable approaches. It builds on the courses that were given in the first year. The animal consumption and production chain is the central theme as it is a topical matter with a lot of public debate, it links to many environmental issues (e.g. sustainability of food production, depletion of resources such as nutrients, water and energy carriers, pollution, climate and land use change, biodiversity loss) and Wageningen University has the leading scientists in all fields related to animal production. Moreover, a sustainable animal production should become part of the bio-based economy of the future.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- explain what Environmental Sciences is;
- explain the environmental problems of the animal consumption and production chain and the underlying societal trends;
- explain how technological, natural and social sciences contribute to solving environmental problems;
- explain that visions, knowledge and methods from different (scientific) disciplines can and should be integrated to analyse, solve and prevent environmental problems;
- better perform group work, writing, literature research and field research and give a presentation and participate in a debate;
- explain what the specializations of the Environmental Sciences program are aiming at and what the possible professions are.


- attend lectures and seminars;
- search relevant publications;
- study and discuss literature;
- contribute to group work and exercises;
- participate in excursions;
- write individual and group papers;
- write a study plan.


Based on participation in all activities, and on individual and group products. At the end an exam is scheduled.


A course guide and start literature is available.

Compulsory for: BESEnvironmental SciencesBSc6WD