0959 Elective: Economy and Sustainability I: Concepts and trends of resource
Univ.Doz. Dr. Stefan Giljum, Dr. Victor Wegner Maus
Contact details
  • Type
  • Weekly hours
  • Language of instruction
09/13/21 to 09/19/21
Registration via LPIS
Notes to the course
Subject(s) Bachelor Programs
Day Date Time Room
Thursday 10/07/21 01:00 PM - 05:00 PM Online-Einheit
Thursday 10/14/21 01:00 PM - 05:00 PM Online-Einheit
Thursday 10/21/21 01:00 PM - 05:00 PM Online-Einheit
Thursday 11/04/21 01:00 PM - 05:00 PM Online-Einheit
Thursday 11/11/21 01:00 PM - 05:00 PM Online-Einheit
Thursday 11/18/21 01:00 PM - 05:00 PM Online-Einheit


This course is the first of two courses in the elective stream ‘Sustainable Resource Management’.
It is also part of the BBE specialisation 'Economy, climate change and sustainability".

The course will be held in English.

Course outline

Unit 1: Introduction

Part I: Administrative aspects of the course

  • Course structure / overview of topics
  • Expectations from students and course leader
  • Assessment criteria

Part II: Theory & concepts

  • Unsustainable trends
  • Public goods
  • Environmental economics vs. Ecological Economics

Unit 2: Natural resource use: concepts and trends

Part I: Approaches to measure resource use

  • GDP as a key indicator / GDP critique
  • Societal metabolism
  • Categories of resources
  • Territorial vs. footprint perspectives

Part II: Empirical trends of resource use

  • Investigating trends in resource extraction, trade and consumption in selected countries

Unit 3: Socio-economic aspects of natural resource use

Part I: Global trends of resource use

  • World-wide trends
  • The rise of emerging economies

Part II: Decoupling and rebound effects

  • Decoupling: definition and types
  • Empirical trends
  • Interlinkages between rebound effects, resource efficiency and resource use

Unit 4: Earth observation science for sustainable resource use

Part I: Introduction to earth observation

  • Resource use assessments at the spatially explicit level
  • Remote sensing
  • Examples for satellite-based data, indicators and modelling

Part II: Applications for sustainable resource use

  • Applications of remote sensing to monitor climate change and resource use impacts
  • Synergies between climate and resource use strategies
  • Earth observation and supply chains / footprint assessments

Unit 5: Globalisation and international trade I: concepts and trends

Part I: Theoretical reflections and empirical trends

  • Arguments pro and contra free trade
  • Empirical trends (structure of global economy, supply chains, footprints, outsourcing, transport emissions, …)

Part II: International trade, development and environment

  • Country examples for export patterns and their environment and development impacts

Unit 6: Globalisation and international trade II: policy options

Part I: Opportunities for more sustainable trade

  • Excursus on development economics: the problem of export dependency
  • Overview of policy approaches and voluntary initiatives
  • Case study palm oil: Certification / Labelling

Part II: Opportunities II & group work

  • Case study conflict minerals: EU supply chain law
  • Analysis of trade structures in a selected country

Learning outcomes

After the course the participants will:

- be able to understand different schools of thought to address resource use problems (environmental economics versus ecological economics).

- know about the main methods and indicators to measure (un)sustainable resource use

- be able to reflect on current trends in resource use in the Austrian, European and global context

- be able to critically assess concepts such as “de-coupling” and are aware of the key role of rebound effects

- have learned about the dynamics of globalisation and international trade in shaping global patterns of resource use

- know policy options to achieve a more sustainable international economic system

Attendance requirements

In the course attendance is obligatory.

One class can be missed without negatively effecting the grade. Absence must be announced by e-mail before the respective class.

Teaching/learning method(s)

- Input by lecturer

- Group work

- Small group presentations

- Discussions

- Videos

- Background research and literature


The performance will be evaluated based on four components:

- Take-Home exam after unit 6 (30%)

- Homeworks following units 2, 4 and 5 (30%)

- Group presentation and hand-out (30%)

- Active participation (10%)

Prerequisites for participation and waiting lists

The succesful completion of this course is prerequisite to particpate in the "Elective - Transforming the economy towards sustainability - II".

Attending the first class is a prerequisite to participate in the course.

Last edited: 2021-05-26