Micro-credential The political ecology of sustainable development and green economy

Start op 03.02.2025

Sociale wetenschappen


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° n/a Engels
Tags: Environment, Development, political ecology, sustainable, green economy

In this course students explore and unpack the central concepts and tenets underpinning current debates on climate change and sustainable development.


This micro credential aims to familiarize students with the central debates and discussions underpinning global discourses and policies on “sustainable development” and the “green economy”, using a political ecology lens.

The first part of the course will pay attention to the broader history, development and underlying paradigms of the co-production of social and ecological change within the context of increasing capitalist expansion, globalization, and under the modernist banner of so-called “progress”. After a general introductory class, setting out and critically assessing the history of human-nature relationships and contradictory notions of “sustainable development” as well as alternative views on “development”, particular attention will be given to climate and biodiversity negotiations and the key mechanisms/policies that have been designed to tackle global climate change and ecological breakdown.

The second part of the course aims to develop a critical and historical appreciation of how politics and power affect global human-nature relations through the use of different lenses and approaches.

The third part of the course will give a broad outline and analysis of the current political economy of global conservation and concomitant environmental policies. Biodiversity, ecosystems and species are generally recognised to be under much pressure the world over but how should we understand the currently dominant responses to mediate these pressures? Very popular, these days, are green economy and market-based approaches to conservation, including carbon markets, payments for ecosystem services (PES), biodiversity derivatives and the like, which makes it crucial to study how the economics and politics of conservation and the environment intersect.

A fourth -and more interactive- final part aims to present and discuss alternative transformational views and processes of (re)imagining and (re)enacting alternative social-ecological futures, using examples from all over the world.

Target Group:

- Master/ Bachelor students in Social Sciences ( Development Studies, Political Science, economics, international relations, …) or related disciplines with a specific interest in topics on social-environmental change
- Development practitioners and activists (NGOS, international institutions, social movements)
- Government officials and policy makers active in development / environmental policy field
- IOB Alumni who would like to update/ extend their knowledge on this topic


The micro credential ‘The political ecology of sustainable development and green economy’ consist of nine sessions of two hours in which both the central concepts and debates underpinning global discourses and policies on “sustainable development” and the “green economy” are critically assessed.

Tentative overview of the different sessions:
• Session 1-2: A political economic history of “sustainabilities” and environmentalisms
• Session 3-4: Evolution of conservation/development paradigms: the birth of the “green economy” myth
• Session 5: Critiques of neoliberal conservation
• Session 6-7: Epistemic circulation in environment-development policies, and decolonial ecologies
• Session 8-9: The food-agriculture-environment nexus, and alternative social-ecological futures


Upon successful completion of the micro credential 3 ECTS are accredited.

Type opleiding:
Kort- en langlopende opleidingen, Micro-credentials
Sociale wetenschappen
2024 - 2025
Prof. Dr. Gert Van Hecken (IOB)

UAntwerp Stadscampus

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