ENP-31306 Sustainable Technology Development


Studiepunten 6.00

One day excursion8
Literature study
Project learning21
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. BJM van Vliet
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. BJM van Vliet
dr. ir. CSA van Koppen
dr. ir. PJM Oosterveer
Examiner(s)dr. ir. BJM van Vliet

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

ESA-20806 Principles of Environmental Sciences
ENP-24305 Social Scientific Analysis of Environmental Issues or similar BSc level courses on Environment & Society.


Environmental problems often occur as problems that need technological solutions. The social sciences study these mostly technically defined problems in a societal context. This course especially deals with the forecasting, development and use of environmentally sound technology in modern society. The main goal of this course is to get students acquainted with the societal dimensions of developing and managing environmental technological systems and urban infrastructures within different sectors of production and consumption, both in the developed and in developing countries.

Learning outcomes:

By the end of the course, students are able to demonstrate knowledge of:
- definitions of sustainable technology and system innovation;
- relationships between technology development and society;
- different methods of technology assessment, scenario building and technology forecasting and back casting;
- current socio-technical experiments in technological systems such as urban infrastructures, food, housing and building.
Furthermore, they are able to:
- design socio-technological niches for sustainable technology development;
- evaluate present day socio-technological experiments in terms of their contribution to technological transitions;
- discuss, report, present and defend a case of sustainable technology development within a chosen field;
and have strengthened their skills in:
- literature search;
- reading and summarizing social scientific literature on technology development and innovation;
- academic writing.


The course develops from assessing and explaining theoretical views on sustainable technology and role of technology in system innovation towards practical applications of technological scenario building, strategic niche management and technological transition management. Lectures are combined with student presentations on the literature studied. During tutorials, students practise with the methods and approaches presented in literature and lectures. The first section of lectures and tutorials deals with definitions of environmental technology, historical approaches towards technology development and the rise of environmental problems, related to technology.
In the second section of lectures and tutorials, contemporary approaches to and methods of sustainable technology development are introduced, like technological transition management, strategic niche management, scenario development, back-casting, forecasting and constructive technology assessment.
In a third parallel part, groups of students apply these approaches to a particular socio-technical system, for instance: food, housing, industry, water, waste, transport, energy, sanitation. Tailor made excursions to innovative sustainable technology projects in The Netherlands are included.
During the course, students do a group assignment which combines both theory and practice of sustainable technology development. Creative future vision building should be combined with building socio-technical scenarios towards realizing such vision. Comparison is made between own technological niche designs with real life projects of sustainable technology development. At the end the papers will be presented to the group.


Exam and group-paper (50/50), provided that both are 5.5 or higher.


A course ouline will be available.

Verplicht voor: BTOTourism (joint degree)BSc
Keuze voor: MFTFood TechnologyMScH: Sustainable Food Process Engineering3MO
MESEnvironmental SciencesMSc3WD
MUEUrban Environmental ManagementMSc3WD
MCLClimate StudiesMSc3WD