• University of Leeds

Environmental Challenges: Rights and Values in Ecosystem Services

Differences in values can create conflict. How can we learn to manage our natural resources with integrity?

Environmental Challenges: Rights and Values in Ecosystem Services
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?

Humans are very innovative, but we’ve also created many ecological problems. We’ve changed the face of the planet, fished the oceans, and we’re causing climate change through emissions.

Designing institutional arrangements that recognise ecosystem services in the values we place upon natural systems will be an important way to help governing the planet, for both present and future generations.

This course explores three approaches to rights and values, and applies these to ecosystem services around the world. It also includes advice on producing press releases about environmental issues.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 secondsPeople can have very different priorities on how they value natural resources, and these differences can create conflict and disagreement. Someone may place a high value on buying technology and save their wages to buy the latest gadgets. Or someone else might prefer to spend their hard-earned money on landscaping their garden. The measurement of value is often thought to be the same-- money that's been earned through work. But not all values can be measured by money. And even those that can might represent different ways of seeing and relating to the world.

Skip to 0 minutes and 44 secondsI'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 nature of values and the value of nature, Coasian bargaining, and the precautionary principle. These principles will then be applied to case studies, including field trials of genetically modified organisms, and the use of asbestos and the damage that this has had on people's health. We close the course with a discussion about ecosystem services. I'm joined by two colleagues from the University of Leeds who will share their experiences of working around the world and their perspectives on valuing ecosystem services. So, how would you describe your values when considering ecosystem services?

Skip to 1 minute and 33 secondsI look forward to hearing your thoughts and joining your discussions on the course.

What topics will you cover?

  • Types of category errors that are frequently made in assignment of values.
  • The different types of values.
  • The conflicts that often arise from a collision of values.
  • The cost of exercising a right.
  • Examples of Coasian Bargaining, identifying the limitations of more complex cases.
  • The application of Ron Coase’s suggestions of market-based solutions to problems of social cost.
  • The limits to the scientific knowledge that can be used to underpin decisions.
  • The use of precaution when making decisions where there is a lack of scientific knowledge.
  • Defining how the application of precaution may prevent significant innovations from being made.
  • The reasons why the precautionary principle is not applied with consistency when making decisions.
  • The role of power and hegemony as an important factor when the precautionary principle is applied in decision making.
  • The importance of making precautionary decisions that have economic costs.
  • The application of the principles to environmental case studies: the impact of Chernobyl, genetically modified organisms, asbestos, and ecosystem services.
  • The power of a well-written news report to change people’s opinions and values: writing a press release.

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?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

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What will you achieve?

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

  • Identify the three main types of values and demonstrate how they might be applied to decision-making about natural resources.
  • Explain the concept of Coasian bargaining and describe a narrative that demonstrates the impact on environmental equality.
  • Demonstrate why the precautionary principle is one of the fundamental principles used for decision-making about the environment.
  • Explore how a well-written news report can change people’s opinions and values.

Who is the course for?

The course is suitable for anyone with a general interest in values 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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