ENP-35806 Environmental Quality and Governance


Studiepunten 6.00

Individual Paper1
Course coordinator(s)M van der Knaap
prof. dr. SR Bush
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. AJ Murk
dr. ir. KPJ Fortuin
dr. A Siwale
prof. dr. SR Bush
M van der Knaap
Examiner(s)prof. dr. SR Bush

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

As students participating in this course can have a background in ecology, policy making and environmental sociology or environmental toxicology and water quality, no specific knowledge is assumed. We do assume, however, that you are very eager to learn more about the 'other' fields of science in the knowledge that this is vital for everyone aspiring to a future in environmental management.


This course enables students to identify how interdisciplinary scientific perspectives from the social and natural sciences can contribute to a shared understanding of risk and problem solving in complex environmental problems. You will be asked to explore the possible role of science in the public policy process by bringing together key concepts in environmental toxicology, animal ecology, public policy, and environmental governance. In the first half of the course you will become acquainted with technical skills required for gathering, processing, and interpreting data on environmental toxicology and animal ecology, as well as relevant social science theories on the relationship between science and politics in the public policy process. You will participate in a policy simulation in which you must generate, interpret, and present scientific data needed to estimate and reduce the risk associated with poor environmental quality and unsustainable use of ecosystem services. The course caters for students with a background in either natural or social sciences by providing a unique opportunity to integrate both perspectives into practical process of environmental research and policy. You will be introduced to a range of natural science concepts and methods used to assess the exposure and effect of persistent toxic compounds accumulating in the food chain, posing risks for eel population success and the health of eel consumers. From the social science side you will be introduced to concepts that can be used to analytically interpret the values, interests, and strategies of stakeholders involved in policy processes around risk identification, definition, acceptance, and management. By the end of the course you will be able to apply these skills in both the analysis and practice of science and policy making, while also taking into account other possible explanations and solutions for the dramatic decline in eel populations.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- understand environmental quality issues in a holistic way, taking into account the interplay of social and biophysical dynamics;
- explain the basic principles and indicators of environmental quality and appraise their application in environmental risk assessment;
- evaluate a range of toxicological and water quality research methods and analyse the uncertainty scientists and policy makers face when using the results of environmental risk assessments;
- use social science concepts such as risk society and uncertainty to explain and assess the role of public and private actors in negotiations over environmental policy;
- critically assess the formulation of policy goals, as well as technical and political strategies for engaging public and private sector actors to improve environmental quality;
- critically assess the role of natural and social science research in addressing an environmental quality issue and draw lessons for one's own (future) professional practice;
- identify and reflect upon selected key requirements for successful interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary environmental research.


- the course will consist of eight lectures in which key concepts in each discipline will be introduced;
- students will then have an opportunity to develop practical skills in toxicology and water quality assessment;
- a policy game or simulation will provide students with a chance to put skills and theories into practice;
- students will be asked to hand in an individual major paper in which they will reflect on the linkages between the theory introduced in the lectures and their experiences in the simulation;
- finally there will be an exam to test student's understanding of inter and trans-disciplinarity as developed during the course.


Students will be assessed on tasks set through the tutorials and the simulation, and a final exam designed to test the basic knowledge and understanding gathered during the course. All assessments will be marked out of 10 and to pass the course you must get at least 5.5 on each of the tasks:
- simulation assignments and participation: 30%;
- essay and related assignments: 30%;
- exam: 40%.


See course guide.

Verplicht voor: MESEnvironmental SciencesMSc2AF, 5AF