ENP-23806 Sustainability Transitions: Concepts, Issues and Indicators


Studiepunten 6.00

Individual Paper3
Group work1
Excursion (one day)8
Course coordinator(s)dr. S Kloppenburg
Lecturer(s)dr. NM Teeuwen
dr. ir. BJM van Vliet
dr. ir. BG Temmink
dr. ir. CSA van Koppen
dr. ir. A ter Heijne
dr.ir. JE Dykstra
dr. MA de Haas
Examiner(s)dr. S Kloppenburg
dr. ir. A ter Heijne
dr. MA de Haas

Language of instruction:



Knowledge of and capability to work with sustainability concepts, indicators and issues belong to the core competences to be obtained in the environmental sciences. Sustainability is a concept that can be linked to many domains in society. This course is tailored towards two of the major domains: water and energy systems. Energy and water systems are crucial for human subsistence and of major environmental relevance. This course deals with the major transformations (transitions) that are needed within water and energy systems to reach sustainability. The course entails concepts of sustainability and transitions, applied to water and energy production and consumption. It presents indicators for the assessment of long-term strategies towards sustainable water and energy systems and shows and discusses historical and present issues in energy and water technology and management in the Netherlands.
In this course the concept transition is used as a whole of transformation processes in which sectors in society change in a fundamental way over one generation (25 years) or more. Apart from discussing future transitions in water and energy, special attention will be given to the major changes water and energy systems have undergone in the past.
The course includes theoretical literature and lectures on sustainability and transition (management), indicators for sustainability assessment, and thematic (guest) lectures from Environmental History, Environmental Technology and Environmental Policy lecturers on the past, present and future of water and energy systems.
Apart from preparing and attending lectures, students will write individual essays guided by lecturers and peer students during small group sessions, and participate in a full day excursion to innovative water and energy projects in the Netherlands.

Learning outcomes:

- students will be acquainted with the different concepts of sustainability;
- students will be acquainted with the dynamics of industrialized societies, particularly concerning the past and future transitions in water and energy sectors in the Netherlands;
- students are capable to evaluate existing and formulate their own long-term strategies towards 'sustainability' in water and energy-systems;
- students will be able to apply sustainability indicators to assessing long term, social and technical transformations in water and energy sectors;
- students will have enhanced their scientific writing skills by writing an essay on a chosen subject covered in the course and by reviewing essays from peer students.


The subject matter is elaborated and explained in lectures and a field trip. Guest lecturers from water and energy sectors discuss what sustainability means in their professional lives. Students write an essay on a self-chosen subject in connection with the lecture program, and review papers of other students.


- written exam with 5 open questions (50%);
- individual paper (50%).
Each component needs a minimum mark of 5.5 to pass.


See course guide.

Verplicht voor: BESEnvironmental SciencesBSc2MO
Keuze voor: WUCLCBSc Minor Climate Change: Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Society2MO
WUUEMBSc Minor Urban Environmental Management2MO