0772 Elective: Economy and Sustainability I: Concepts and Trends of Natural Resource Use
Univ.Doz. Dr. Stefan Giljum
Contact details
Weekly hours
Language of instruction
09/06/23 to 09/12/23
Registration via LPIS
Notes to the course
Day Date Time Room
Thursday 10/05/23 01:00 PM - 05:00 PM TC.5.18
Thursday 10/12/23 01:00 PM - 05:00 PM TC.5.18
Thursday 10/19/23 01:00 PM - 05:00 PM TC.5.18
Thursday 11/09/23 01:00 PM - 05:00 PM TC.5.18
Thursday 11/16/23 01:00 PM - 05:00 PM TC.5.18
Thursday 11/30/23 01:00 PM - 03:30 PM D2.0.326

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
  • Resource use and climate change

Environmental impacts of construction

  • Timber as alternative raw material for construction
  • Case study Rhomberg Bau

Unit 3: Trends of natural resource use

Resource use indicators

  • Production- & consumption-oriented indicators
  • Ecological Footprint

Global resource use trends

  • Data platform
  • Global trends over the past decades

Case study China

  • The rise of emerging economies
  • Example Mobility system and renewable energy

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

Decoupling targets at the company level

  • Group work and presentations

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 trade dependencies

  • Environmental impacts of increasing transport
  • Trade dependencies

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: EU regulation on deforestation-free products
  • 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

10 places in this course can be directly booked. 15 additional places are reserved for BBE students, 5 additional places for Incoming students. Possible free places will be allocated from the waiting list according to study progress.

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


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Last edited: 2023-09-06