• 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?

25,518 enrolled on this course

  • Duration

    2 weeks
  • Weekly study

    5 hours
  • Accreditation

    AvailableMore info

This course explores three basic principles when considering ecosystem services:

  1. The nature of values
  2. Coasian bargaining
  3. The precautionary principle

We apply these principles to the classic case studies of planting genetically modified crops, the Chernobyl disaster and health damage from asbestos. A discussion explores ecosystem services.

This course will help you to understand these basic principles so that you are equipped to help deal with some of the difficult environmental decisions we are facing.

Humans are very innovative, but we’ve also created many ecological problems. We’ve changed the face of the planet by agriculture and forestry. We’ve fished the oceans, and we’re causing climate change through greenhouse gases released from fossil fuels.

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.

Intrigued? Then sign up for this short course to find out more.

Earn credit from the University of Leeds

This course is part of the Environmental Challenges program from the University of Leeds. When you complete all five courses in the program and buy a Certificate of Achievement for each, you will be eligible to join a final assessment course that leads to the award of 10 credits from the University of Leeds.

Gain a key environmental management skill

Each course in the program includes an exercise and revision material to help you develop a skill that is key to working in environmental management – this course explores how to write a press release.

This course has been certified by the CPD Certification Service as conforming to continuing professional development principles. By completing all aspects of the course you will have achieved 14 hours of CPD time.

Choose how you would like to learn

  • If you have a general interest in this topic, you can work through the activities in around three hours each week. You will have the opportunity to check your understanding and spend some time joining the discussions.
  • If you would like to know more about the topic, you can spend up to an extra two hours a week reading the additional materials and watching the videos provided in the ‘Downloads’ and ‘See also’ sections within some course steps. By doing this, you will have the required knowledge to attempt the end of course test.
  • If you have more time to study, you can also complete the optional revision activity and join a live Q&A session in the second week of the course – this will help you when you attempt the end of course test. You will need to allow a further two hours a week to cover the revision tasks.
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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds People 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 seconds 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 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 seconds I 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?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

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?

No previous knowledge or experience is required, just an interest in environmental management and natural resource management.

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.

Learning on FutureLearn

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  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
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Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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