• University of Leeds

Environmental Challenges: Justice in Natural Resource Management

How do we ensure that the difficult decisions about the management of natural resources are just and fair for all?

Environmental Challenges: Justice in Natural Resource Management
  • Duration2 weeks
  • Weekly study5 hours
  • AccreditationAvailableMore info
This course is part of the Environmental Challenges program, which will enable you to explore how people and nature interact, and earn 10 credits from the University of Leeds.

Why join the course?

When looking at different societies and cultures around the world, it is interesting how ubiquitous the principles of justice are. It is part of our human nature to think about equality, and consider fairness as something that we do naturally. However, in practical terms, equality is hard to achieve.

This course explores three aspects of justice, and applies these to environmental issues surrounding natural resource management around the world. It also introduces Strategic Environmental Assessment and Terms of Reference.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds Decisions about the management of natural resources is something which affects us all. Are natural resources something we should conserve for future generations, or are they just a commodity to be financially exploited? For some, this decision is simple, but as we regularly hear through the news and social media, different people place different values on nature. And questions such as this can leave societies divided.

Skip to 0 minutes and 36 seconds This course is about the institutional economics of natural resource management. Institutional economics is something of a forgotten science, currently experiencing a resurgence. It’s about how laws and social norms affect economic transactions and form the incentive structures of society. I’m Professor Jon Lovett, Chair in Global Challenges at the University of Leeds. My role here is to guide you through this course. We start by exploring three basic principles– the principles of justice, the principles associated with transaction costs, and the problem of aggregating social preferences. These principles will be applied to a case study and inform discussion on justice in natural resource management.

Skip to 1 minute and 19 seconds We close the course with a discussion about the forests and irrigation systems in Nepal - where the caste system has historically resulted in injustice in access to natural resources. I’ve invited some of my friends and colleagues from Nepal into the course so that they can share their own experiences. So, how can we ensure fairness and justice when considering the management of natural resources? I look forward to hearing your thoughts and joining your discussions on the course.

What topics will you cover?

  • Understand the way that thought experiments can be used to generate fundamental principles.
  • Have knowledge of the two principles of justice used in the Theory of Justice.
  • Be introduced to the approach of John Rawls, often regarded as the greatest moral philosopher of the 20th Century.
  • Understand the difference between economic approaches based on the ‘hidden hand’ of a free market, and institutional economics, in which transaction costs are considered to be important.
  • Appreciate the factors that reduce transaction costs.
  • Be introduced to Douglass North, who is often regarded as the father of modern institutional economics.
  • Understand the practical difficulties of applying the principle of equality to decision-making.
  • Be able to perform a simple test to show how collective modes of choice can be logically inconsistent.
  • Be introduced to Ken Arrow, who demonstrated the difficulty of rational choice in social welfare.
  • Be able to recognise the application of Rawls’ principles of justice to policy.
  • Understand the violation of the second principle of justice when applied to saving for future generations.
  • Appreciate that the solution to intergenerational justice is to have fairness in the present generation.

Who is this accredited by?

The CPD Certification Service
The CPD Certification Service:

This course has been accredited by the CPD Certification Service, which means it can be used to provide evidence of your continuing professional development.

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

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What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Discuss John Rawls’s principles and theory of justice.
  • Explore institutional economics and transaction costs.
  • Explain Arrow Impossibility and problems with collective decision making.
  • Produce a Terms of Reference for Strategic Environmental Assessment.

Who is the course for?

The course is suitable for anyone with a general interest in justice and environmental decision-making; no previous knowledge or experience is required.

If you are working in environmental management, or wish to learn more about it, this course is designed to support you as a professional. By completing all aspects of the course you will have achieved 14 hours of CPD time.

Who will you learn with?

Jon Lovett is Chair in Global Challenges in the School of Geography at the University of Leeds and works on institutional economics.

Who developed the course?

University of Leeds

As one of the UK’s largest research-based universities, the University of Leeds is a member of the prestigious Russell Group and a centre of excellence for teaching.

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