5868 Sustainable Economics and Business II: The Energy, Water, Food Nexus
Dr. Gillian Joanne Foster, M.A.
Contact details
Weekly hours
Language of instruction
02/06/19 to 02/23/19
Registration via LPIS
Notes to the course
Subject(s) Bachelor Programs
Day Date Time Room
Friday 03/08/19 09:30 AM - 12:30 PM TC.5.16
Friday 03/22/19 09:30 AM - 12:30 PM TC.5.16
Friday 03/29/19 09:30 AM - 12:30 PM TC.5.16
Friday 04/05/19 09:30 AM - 12:30 PM TC.5.16
Friday 04/12/19 09:30 AM - 12:30 PM TC.5.16
Friday 05/10/19 09:30 AM - 12:30 PM TC.5.16
Friday 05/17/19 09:30 AM - 12:30 PM TC.5.16
Friday 05/24/19 09:30 AM - 12:30 PM TC.5.16

The Energy, Water, Food, Nexus (EWF) represents a new way of thinking, analyzing, policymaking, and governing.  As a crosscutting issue, EWF, has dynamic economic, biophysical, political, and analytical facets.   In this class students will comprehensively explore the facets of the nexus issues at several levels.  First, the theoretical concepts that underpin a nexus approach.  Second, an empirical analytical approach to understanding the nexus.   Third, a case study approach that frames the nexus as real-world problems and solutions. 

In this class, particular emphasis is placed on teamwork skills and reflective thinking and experiential knowledge. Extensive feedback from both the course instructor and peers helps students to understand their shortcomings and to improve.

The course will be taught with a mix of in-class lectures, discussions and reflections on the readings, video lectures, interactive games, peer learning by teaching and use of databases.  Use of laptops, tablets or smart phones will be required on certain days as noted in the syllabus. 

After completing a ZuWi II course the students are aware of the social and environmental context of economic activities. They have a holistic perspective, seeing both the economy and society as embedded in biophysical systems. They understand the effects business has on these dimensions. Throughout the course, students learn to take into account the impact of their later actions on society and the natural environment, their social responsibility and their contribution to a long-termsustainable development. Students develop the ability to consider ethical, social and environmental issues implied in their decisions in both private and professional spheres. They acquire skills such as self-reflection, openness and sensitivity to diversity, and understanding of complexity. They learn to conduct team projects effectively, to listen attentively and to present their ideas in convincing ways. Having completed the course, they are able to process information, to understand ideas and problems, to develop solutions and to communicate them to both expert and non-expert audiences.

Learning outcomes

Topic Knowledge:

After completing this course, students should be able to:

  • Describe the Energy, Water, Food Nexus at individual, national and regional/international scales.
  • Relay and link knowledge of key theories for nexus issues (complex systems theory, resilience, circular economy).
  • Read and demonstrate comprehension of assigned texts.
  • Describe the historical governance structures and policies that apply to EWF. 
  • Identify and discuss challenges and obstacles to a nexus approach in general and for EWF.
  • Describe and compare methods used to assess EWF
  • Investigate and formulate one’s own opinion on a specific issue using an EWF nexus approach.

Procedural Knowledge:

- Know how to prepare and present a website

- Know how to prepare and present an academic poster

- Know how to properly cite resources in an academic poster or paper

Furthermore, the course aims to contribute to the student's capabilities and skills to:

  • Analyze complex issues;
  • Negotiate and debate one’s point of view;
  • Oral and written communication skills;
  • Give and receive critical and constructive feedback in group discussions;
  • Reflect on his/her own contribution and performance (self-reflection).
Attendance requirements

Courses with continuous assessment of student performance (PI) have compulsory attendance.
In case of absence the lecturer is to be informed in advance if possible.
More detailed regulations on absenteeism will be explained in the first unit.

Teaching/learning method(s)

The course will consist of:

  • Lectures from the instructor
  • Reading of the assigned literature and watching assigned video lectures,
  • Individual assignments related to the literature and other course material
  • Group tasks and presentation

1- Group work developing a website and in-class presentation (35%) on a given case study related to EWF Nexus

2 – Individual poster for in-class presentation on a chosen topic related EWF (35%)

3- Small assignments based on the course materials (20%)

5- Active participation in in-class activities discussions, debates, etc. (10%)

Prerequisites for participation and waiting lists

Course enrollment is on the basis of "first-come, first-served” principle. If you have registered but cannot participate in the course, please de-register via LPIS during the registration period so that your course is available to students on the waiting list.

If there is a waiting list for enrollment in the course, students at the waiting list will be notified after the end of the enrollment period, and will be allocated to available places. Students will be ranked by their study progress not by their rank on the waiting list.

This procedure, however, is not to be understood as a place guarantee!

Availability of lecturer(s)

Office hour every Monday afternoon from 14:30 – 15:30 or appointment by request.  Tel: + 43 1 313 36 5521


Other than as requested by the lecturer, please do not use your electonic devices in class.

Last edited: 2019-08-26