2240 Sustainable Economics and Business II: Theory and Practice of Community-based Economics
Roman Hausmann, MSc (WU)
Contact details
Weekly hours
Language of instruction
09/08/23 to 10/30/23
Registration via LPIS
Notes to the course
Subject(s) Bachelor Programs
Day Date Time Room
Thursday 11/02/23 09:00 AM - 10:00 AM TC.5.16
Thursday 11/16/23 09:00 AM - 12:00 PM TC.5.02
Thursday 11/30/23 09:00 AM - 12:00 PM TC.5.02
Thursday 12/07/23 09:00 AM - 12:00 PM TC.5.02
Thursday 12/14/23 09:00 AM - 12:00 PM TC.5.02
Thursday 12/21/23 09:00 AM - 12:00 PM TC.5.02
Thursday 01/11/24 09:00 AM - 12:00 PM TC.5.02
Thursday 01/18/24 09:00 AM - 11:30 AM TC.5.02
Thursday 01/25/24 09:00 AM - 10:00 AM TC.5.02

This course introduces a selection of both theoretical approaches to and practical applications of ‘community-based economics’ (CBE). CBE refers to the analysis of economic practices, activities and interrelationships that are induced and primarily driven by communities and are therefore usually organised around small-scale and place-based niche initiatives. These initiatives develop and experiment with innovative forms of provisioning for the sake of actively restoring, maintaining, and creating ecological and social qualities.

The first part of the course focuses on theoretical approaches to CBE, starting with a critical discussion of how economics and ‘the economy’ are conventionally defined and then moving towards a more politically informed and broader approach. Building on this, we develop a deeper understanding of the theoretical considerations around CBE. This includes a discussion of several related key concepts, including localisation, bottom-up action, degrowth, and commons.

In the second part of the course, we turn to a selection of practical applications and real-world cases of CBE. This includes a discussion of the major EU policy framework for CBE: the Community-Led Local Development programme. Furthermore, a variety of bottom-up grassroots activist movements that seek to promote local post-capitalist economic practices are covered, such as transition towns, ecovillages, energy communities, and community-supported agriculture. Finally, we turn to some sceptical perspectives on CBE and discuss the limitations and obstacles regarding their contribution to sustainability transformations.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course students should be able to:

  • understand selected theories of CBE;
  • be familiar with practical applications and real-world cases of CBE;
  • critically engage in discussions about the benefits/potentials and shortcomings/limitations of CBE;
  • further explore the relevant body of scientific literature;
  • be better prepared to work with community initiatives on the ground, both scientifically and practically.
Attendance requirements

Any absence from class should be reported to the course instructor in advance. Usually, the WU has a basic pass/fail attendance policy.  That is, you are not allowed to miss more than two class sessions over the entire semester. This allowance is intended for serious unforeseen circumstances and should not be used simply for taking time off, job interviews, work, planned holidays or similar.

Teaching/learning method(s)

The course design consists of a combination of independent readings prior to class, input delivered by the course instructor, as well as the interactive application and discussion of the acquired material by the students.

Before class, students are expected to prepare by studying the assigned readings and develop their own discussion questions which they bring to class.

Each in-class session begins with a 1.5-hour lecture delivered by the course instructor. For the following 15 minutes, a rotating group of students gives a short presentation on the readings that have been assigned for that week and responds to questions from the other students. For the remainder of the session, all students engage in a critical discussion of the acquired material or perform other varied group tasks.

In the final session, students are expected to take an exam that entails all the material covered throughout the semester.

The course thus employs the following teaching/learning methods:

  • Lectures delivered by course instructor
  • Readings
  • Group presentations
  • Handouts
  • In-class discussions
  • Further in-class group work
  • Exam

The required coursework is listed below. The percentage of the final grade for each summative assessment is indicated.

  • Attendance and class participation (10 %)
  • Reading and development of discussion questions (15%)
  • Group presentation and handout (25 %)
  • Exam (50%)


Attendance and class participation (10%)

Students are expected to attend all sessions, pay attention to the lectures, and actively engage in the discussions and group work. You are not allowed to miss more than two class sessions over the entire semester!


Reading and development of discussion questions (15%)

For each session of the course, the course instructor provides relevant readings. Each student should study these readings individually before class. In addition, students are expected to develop three discussion questions per session that are based on the readings. These questions should be thought-provoking and stimulate a critical discussion of the readings in relation to the course topic. A selection of these questions is then discussed in class. Students should upload these three discussion questions to MyLearn at least 24 hours before class.


Group presentation and handout (25%)

For each session, one group of students is assigned to give a 15-minute presentation summarising the readings for this week. After the presentation, the other students can ask questions to the presenting group. In addition, the group is expected to write a 500-word handout on the readings, outlining their key insights and relevance to the course topic. Students can then use these handouts to prepare for the exam. The groups should send their presentation (e.g. ppt, poster, etc.) and handout to the course instructor ( at least 24 hours before class.

Exam (50%)

During the final session, students are expected to take a 30-minute exam. All lectures as well as the key insights from the assigned readings are relevant for the exam. Students need to pass the exam in order to pass the course!

Prerequisites for participation and waiting lists

Course enrollment is based on the "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 place is available to students on the waiting list.

If there is a waiting list for enrollment in the course, students on 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 progress in their studies, not by their rank on the waiting list. This procedure, however, is not to be understood as a guarantee of class space.


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Marking Scheme:



1 (Excellent)


2 (Very Good)


3 (Good)


4 (Pass)


5 (Fail)


Last edited: 2023-10-30