[IGA 406: Policy Analysis and Design for Sustainable Development]

(Previously offered as IGA-944.) Sustainable development—promoting human well-being while conserving the life-supporting services of the natural environment over the long run—has emerged as a central challenge of the 21st century. This course explores interdisciplinary approaches for harnessing knowledge to support action in pursuit of sustainable development.In particular, it addresses the diagnosis of barriers to sustainable development, the design of policy and technology interventions to overcome those barriers, and the evaluation of how those interventions are likely to perform.The conceptual foundations of the course include the politics and ethics of defining goals and metrics for sustainable development; the complex and adaptive social-environmental systems that constitute the stage on which efforts to promote sustainable development are acted out; and the productive base of assets-manufactured capital, human capital, natural capital, institutions and knowledge-that together determine societies' potential for sustainable development. The core concepts of the course are applied to specific cases of sustainable development ranging from local management of conservation reserves in the developing world, through comparative analysis of historical performance of nations and sectors, to the design of global governance institutions for supporting sustainable development. The course is designed for students who have achieved a degree of mastery in one or more relevant sciences (e.g. economics, ecology, political science,engineering, earth systems science, public health, etc.) but who wish to understand how other bodies of expertise can complement their own in efforts to the promote sustainable development. No student (or the instructor) will have a sophisticated understanding of all the disciplinary perspectives we explore; all are expected to bring some relevant expertise to the table, and to integrate it with that of their classmates through discussion and teamwork. Second year masters students and doctoral students from throughout the university are welcome. Mid-career masters students with suitable backgrounds may be admitted on written application to the instructor.

Notes: Likely offered Fall 2018.






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  • [Course titles in brackets] indicate that the course is not scheduled to be taught during the 2017-2018 academic year, but may be offered in an alternate year.
  • An asterisk (*) before a course number indicates that a student must obtain the instructor's permission in order to enroll in the course.

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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