ENVR E-178: Socio-ecological Systems and Sustainability

Even as we recognize that human well-being depends on the natural environment, we are experiencing unprecedented environmental challenges largely as a consequence of unsustainable interactions with nature. We are increasingly putting our well-being at risk through the unintended environmental consequences of modern life. Industrialization at the expense of natural resources, energy- and pollution-intensive food production, and an economic system that fails to account for natural capital are just a few examples of how we are failing to work effectively within a socio-ecological system. In this course we explore the evidence for the ways in which the natural environment supports well-being, including identifying actionable strategies for sustainability that explicitly recognize the coupled human-natural system and challenging conventional disciplinary norms by integrating the social and natural sciences. We explore themes related to the essentiality of biodiversity to ecosystem services, working with nature, biophilic design, permaculture and multifunctional agricultural landscapes, and collaborative decision making.


Katherine von Stackelberg







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  • [Course titles in brackets] indicate that the course is not scheduled to be taught during the 2020-2021 academic year, but may be offered in an alternate year.
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Harvard University
Center for the Environment

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

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