0853 Elective: Economy and Sustainability I: Concepts and Trends of Natural Resource Use
Univ.Doz. Dr. Stefan Giljum
Contact details
Weekly hours
Language of instruction
09/12/22 to 10/03/22
Registration via LPIS
Notes to the course
Day Date Time Room
Thursday 10/06/22 01:00 PM - 05:00 PM TC.5.16
Thursday 10/13/22 01:00 PM - 05:00 PM TC.5.16
Thursday 10/20/22 01:00 PM - 05:00 PM TC.2.03
Thursday 10/27/22 01:00 PM - 05:00 PM TC.5.16
Thursday 11/10/22 01:00 PM - 05:00 PM TC.5.16
Thursday 11/17/22 01:00 PM - 05:00 PM TC.5.16

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.

Unit 1: Introduction

Administrative aspects of the course
•    Course structure / overview of topics
•    Assessment criteria
The urgency to act
•    Unsustainable trends
•    Public goods / weak vs. strong sustainability
Different perspectives
•    Environmental economics vs. ecological economics
•    Group work on current problems of resource use

Unit 2: Concepts of natural resource use

GDP and alternatives
•    GDP and GDP critique from an environmental perspective
•    Alternative measurement concepts
Societal metabolism
•    Physical metabolism of the economy
•    Categories of natural resources
Resource use and climate change
•    Hot-spot sectors and products
•    Energy-climate-resource nexus: the example of mobility

Unit 3: Trends of natural resource use

Material flow analysis
•    Indicators of resource use
•    Data platform
European and global resource use trends
•    Small group work / quiz on selected trends
•    The rise of emerging economies / focus China
Hot-spot construction industry
•    Case study on sand and problems with sand extraction
•    Discussion: wood as alternative?

Unit 4: Socio-economic aspects of resource use

•    Definition and types
•    Empirical trends of decoupling
Rebound effects
•    Types of rebounds
•    Nexus between rebounds – growth – sustainability
Problem area „food“
•    Resource and climate footprints of food products
•    Discussion: options towards sustainable diets

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

Theory and trade structures
•    Arguments pro and contra free trade
•    Structure of the global trade system
Climate impacts and import dependencies
•    Environmental impacts of increasing transport
•    Import dependency: case study „rare earth elements“
Globalisation and consumption
•    Case study Mobile phones
•    Discussion: Recycling and re-use

Unit 6: Globalisation and international trade II: policy options

Opportunities for more sustainable trade
•    Overview of policy approaches and voluntary initiatives
•    Case study palm oil: Certification / Labelling
Opportunities II & group work
•    Case study conflict minerals: EU supply chain law
•    Group work: analysis of trade structures in a selected country
Evaluation and take-home exam
•    Online evaluation
•    Presentation of questions for take-home exam

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 (40%)

- Homeworks following units 3 and 5 (20%)

- 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 course "Economy and Sustainability II".

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

Last edited: 2022-05-10