13-17 January 2014

Oxford Winter School in Ecological Economics 2014

Balliol College, Oxford
This course explores the cutting edge methods and policy applications in ecological economics, an interdisciplinary field emerged in response to global sustainability crisis. With a clear sustainable development focus, it draws on the expertise of a range of disciplines: economics, ecology, physics, environmental sciences, sociology, psychology, complex systems theory, etc. to address the current challenges: climate change, biodiversity loss, resource depletion, water shortages, social cohesion and achieving sustainability. Ecological economics has been critical of the dominant approaches to decision making, namely cost-benefit analysis, the use of GDP as a key economic progress measure and the limits of the economic models not taking into account resource and environmental constraints. 'Green Economy' and 'Beyond GDP' movements are inspired by the ideas proposed by ecological economists.

The course will address three key elements of the new economy transformation: industrial ecology approach, multiple criteria methods for decision making and new tools for measuring progress. In the theoretical part, it will analyse the concept of industrial ecology, which highlights the importance of intersectoral flows of matter and energy required for the production of the goods and services. The method of environmentally extended input-output analysis, actively used for policy applications around the world, will be introduced to illustrate this approach. Next, it will explore the system of tools for decision making based on multicriteria methods, used for policy appraisal, which applied at different levels could shift the patterns of decisions making towards more socially equitable and more environmentally friendly as well as economically sound decisions. Acting as a bridge to the policy module, the final theoretical session will criticise existing approaches to measure macro sustainability performance and will introduce new conceptual tools for the assessment of progress.

In the policy module the achievement of sustainability will be linked with policy regulation of social, economic and ecological systems. Here, a spectrum of sustainable development policy instruments will be discussed with cases of their applications in various parts of the world. A sustainable city model will be introduced to stimulate a cross-cultural and an interdisciplinary policy discussion. Policies for stimulating renewable energy, resource efficiency, and recycling will be explored in considerable detail in the concluding session of the course.

The course aims will equip the students with advanced understanding of the methodology and current policy applications of the new interdisciplinary field of ecological economics. The participants will get an experience of sustainability assessment at the macro scale and the policies necessary to stimulate the transition to the green economy. All those taking the option will be expected to become familiar with a defined set of readings and issues. The students will be encouraged to present their projects.
Theoretical Module
  1. The Economic System and the Environment: Themes and Methods
  2. Ecological-Economic Modelling: Input-Output Analysis for Sustainability
  3. Multi-Criteria Decision Aid for Sustainable Development: Biodiversity & Renewable Energy
  4. Circular Economy: From Micro to Macro
  5. Assessing Progress Towards Sustainability: A Multidimensional Approach

Policy Module
6. Sustainable Development Policy Instruments: Criteria of Success
7. Sustainable Cities: Cross-Cultural and Interdisciplinary Perspective
8. Renewable Energy: Keys to Success
9. Ecological Consciousness: Values, Attitudes and Decision Making
10. Simulations Game
The requirements for the School
The course is designed for multiple points of entry and could be helpful for PhD students, MSc students, government experts, representatives of international organizations and business. The course will give participants an opportunity to explore key methodologies for ecological-economic analysis and to apply these to various case studies.

The requirements for the course are the following:

1. Each participant will be required to develop an independent or a collaborative project and present the preliminary results: methodology, data, key research questions, anticipated conclusion, including the sources of possible surprises, non-linearities and unpredictable behaviour (if any).

2. Each participant will have to prepare a presentation about your background (brief) and project (in more detail) so that all the course participants could get acquainted with you and your work better. The presentation should take 15 min and will be given in the first day of the course.

3. After your application is accepted and you have paid your course fees, you will receive reading materials. The pool of literature you will receive will include a wide spectrum of papers from the early history of ecological economics to the current trends. It will be compulsory to read one or two papers for each lecture and be ready to present them and discuss them from the point of view of the methodology, conclusions, and significance for ecological economics and sustainability analysis.

4. The book 'Ecological Economics: Sustainability in Practice' (amazon link) is going to be the core text for the course and you are welcome to acquire a copy or borrow one from your library. The book is full of useful bibliography, charts, and it would make your course experience more fruitful

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