• University of Leeds

Fairness and Nature: When Worlds Collide

Making decisions about managing natural resources can be difficult; this course explores why fairness needs to be part of policy.

11,337 enrolled on this course

Nature Decisions Policy Fairness
  • Duration

    2 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours
  • Accreditation

    AvailableMore info

This course is about making difficult decisions on the management of natural resources. Different people place different values on nature. For example, some see it as something we should conserve for future generations, others as a resource of financial value to be exploited. Policies about managing nature should be economically and environmentally sound, but they also need to be formulated with social fairness if they are to be sustainable. Inevitably, when there are so many different values, conflicts occur and worlds collide.

We start the course by examining a number of basic principles and then apply them to two case studies. The first case study looks at a range of classic examples, and the second takes the form of a debate centred on our own research. The basic principles can be applied in many different contexts and the case studies are drawn from all over the world, making the course suitable for participants from a wide range of countries and backgrounds.

There are no easy answers to many questions about the management of nature, but an understanding of the principles we discuss and learning how to apply them will help you make better decisions.


This course has been certified by the CPD Certification Service as conforming to continuing professional development principles. By completing the course you will have achieved 8 hours of CPD time.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 17 seconds Nature, decisions, policy, fairness. It’s about the fairness in making decisions about nature, the natural environment, and how policies are derived from those decisions.

Skip to 0 minutes and 36 seconds The course is designed for the participants to learn about the basic principles and to teach people how to apply those principles to, first of all, classic case studies and then to case studies that are drawn from our own research. And when we draw in the case studies from our own research, then we’re doing that in a debate format. The case studies that we’re choosing from our own research are ones that deal with the natural environment and particularly in relation to fairness in decision-making and natural environmental policy. So for example, in the first research led case study, we have a group of people from Nepal coming together and debating issues surrounding agriculture, irrigation, and forestry.

Skip to 1 minute and 26 seconds In the second case study, we have some researchers from University of Leeds who are looking specifically at ecosystem services and the conflicts that surround the application of policy to that area. In the course, what we’re trying to do is to start off with some basic principles and then use those principles in examples to see how we can act with integrity in making decisions. It’s the application of these principles to the case studies that really is what the MOOC is about. And what we want to do is for the students who participate in the course to learn how to do that so that in 10 years’ time, they’ll be able to do it themselves.

Skip to 2 minutes and 6 seconds I think the kind of person that would be really interested in this course is somebody at a university in either a developed or developing country, somebody who’s interested in natural resource management, perhaps, actually applying the kind of things we’re talking about in a real-life context, or high school students who would be interested to see this sort of thing that we teach here at the University of Leeds.

Skip to 2 minutes and 32 seconds The University of Leeds is a very exciting place to work and study. We’ve specialised in interdisciplinary work. What we’re doing here is bringing together the different disciplines to tackle the hard questions, things like climate change, genetically modified organisms, the dreadful effect of Chernobyl. We’ve enjoyed making this course. And we hope it sounds exciting and stimulating for you. If so, please join me on a journey which will help you to make difficult decisions with integrity when worlds collide.

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.

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.

Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone who is concerned about the world’s environmental problems and the policies used to tackle them. We assume a knowledge of these problems, and we start by understanding basic principles so that you may learn how to make difficult decisions about natural resource management with fairness.

This course may be most interesting for learners at school or university level, or professionals working in natural resource management. The course is most relevant to individuals with interests in the following subjects: geography, environmental science, natural sciences, ecology, politics and law.

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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