1413 Elective - Business and the Environment II
Ernest Aigner, M.Sc., Dr. Louison Cahen-Fourot
Contact details or Office hours after appointment Please always write the course number “PI 1413” in the header of emails or contact us through learn@wu!
  • Type
  • Weekly hours
  • Language of instruction
09/19/19 to 09/26/19
Registration via LPIS
Notes to the course
Subject(s) Bachelor Programs
Day Date Time Room
Monday 11/25/19 01:30 PM - 05:30 PM TC.4.16
Monday 12/02/19 01:30 PM - 06:00 PM TC.4.16
Monday 12/09/19 01:30 PM - 05:30 PM TC.4.16
Monday 12/16/19 01:30 PM - 05:30 PM TC.4.16
Monday 01/13/20 01:30 PM - 05:30 PM TC.4.16
Monday 01/20/20 01:30 PM - 05:30 PM TC.4.16


The goal of the seminar is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the interactions and dependencies of social, ecological and economic systems.

Learning outcomes

After taking this seminar, the students are able to:

  • Understand socio-ecological systems as embedded systems and their respective institutional context.
  • Critically analyse and act to address challenges on the intersection between social, ecological and economic systems.
    • Challenges include inequality, environmental pollution and exploitation, growth dependency, and overwork.
  • Understanding the entrenchment of the economy with fossil fuels.
  • Perceive necessities, and conceive options for change towards social prosperity and environmental sustainability.

The seminar promotes the students to:

  • Analyse and critically reflect (‘critical thinking’) on the framing of social and ecological challenges and policies.
  • Select and apply theoretical concepts in the context of ecological economics.
  • Critically reflect on current debates taking place in influential media.
  • Engage in open discussion, conceive their own opinion based on state-of-the-art academic research and give substantial-constructive feedback

Attendance requirements

Class will start at 1.30pm sharp and last until 5.30pm. Please make sure you arrive in time. You may miss one of the six sessions. For exceptional reasons it is possible to miss another session, in that case please contact the lecturer.

Teaching/learning method(s)

  • Inputs by teachers
  • Discussions and critical reflection of academic, news and magazine articles in leading international and social reviews and media.  
  • Variety of group exercises including beehive discussions, collective reading exercise, fish-bowl discussions, panel discussions, poster presentations and role games.
  • Use of videos, film clips, lecture casts and podcasts
  • Engagement in digital media and reflection on online debates taking place, for instance, on blogs and twitter.



Reading Task (30%)

Read actively the current readings of the week. Submit three discussion questions to one of the texts and an answer to one of the three questions with about 300 words.

Submission latest at midnight on the evening preceeding the respective session.

Grading criteria: relevance of the questions in the light of the text and quality of the answer. Each submission counts 5% of the total grade.

Individual Seminar Paper (20%)

Discuss a topic related to the class and of your interest. The seminar paper does not necessarily refer to the topic of your presentation, though you need to cite at least two texts of the course literature. The seminar paper may not exceed a length of five pages, without cover page, table of contents and references. Please format the text with 1.15 lines pacing, 11pt, Times New Roman, author-date referencing style. Source used in the literature should stem from peer-reviewed journals and official statistics. Newspaper and Wikipedia are not suitable sources.

Submission by 20th of January on learn as PDF file.

Grading criteria: Structure & processing: well organised, good legibility/spelling/grammar, referencing system, use of graphics processing (8%). Accuracy, understanding and coverage: focused on the question and understanding of subject, wide use of relevant material, excellent use of illustrative examples (8%). Clarity: clarity of expression, innovative and critical reflection (4%).

Presentation (20%)

Presentation of one academic text in a group of four students. Maximum 10 minutes. The presentation should cover the key content and conclusions from the text. Each student should be active in the class presentation.

Submit the slides to the instructors as email latest on the evening preceding the respective session.

Grading criteria: Structure & processing: well organised (8%). Accuracy, understanding and coverage: demonstrates understanding of the text (8%). Clarity: clarity of expression (4%).

In-class participation (20%)

Grading criteria: active participation in discussions and other in class exercises, enhancement of open and inclusive discussion atmosphere, and meaningful use of digital tools.

Online engagement (10%)

Engage at least once in on an online media platform in a discussion on an issue related to the class. The media and specific format is up to you. Possible platforms or media include discussion forums in newspapers (e.g.,, die, a group in a messenger (e.g. Signal, Snapchat or Whats-app), an online platform (e.g. Facebook or Twitter), your personal blog, a video (e.g. Youtube). The comment needs to be made in English language.

Please upload a screenshot of your online engagement by 20th of January on learn. Please make sure that you do not violate any privacy law and hence anonymize names and pictures.
Grading criteria: Quality of contribution.

Final grade

Very good > 90%
Good > 80%
Satisfactory > 70%
Sufficient >= 60%
Insufficient < 60%

Prerequisites for participation and waiting lists

Please contact the lecturer in case the class is fully booked.

Last edited: 2020-01-14