Ecological Economics: The Management of Sustainability

Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado

Instructor: Carande, Vilma G.
Subject area: Economics
Department: Agricultural and Resource Economics
Course number: EA/EC 380
Year taught: 1996
Level: Undergraduate

Instructor's e-mail address:
Please note that the copyright for this syllabus is retained by the instructor.

Prerequisites (s):
Microeconomics 102 and one college-level course in biology or ecology. Both enforced.

Course Objectives:
- To develop the capacity of students to learn and understand the relationships between ecological and economic systems.
- To apply and integrate concepts of both system ecology and economics in a dynamic, evolutionary, multi-scale, and trans-disciplinary approach.
- To encourage the development of new intellectual tools and models where conventional economics and ecology are ineffective in addressing sustainability.

Format/Instructional Methodology:
The class will meet as a single group two days a week. The course will consist of two learning blocks. The first block will be taught as traditional lectures. They will cover content on four main topics including: 1) Introduction to Ecological Economics; 2) Sustainability; 3) Natural Capital; and 4) Ecosystem Health. The second block will consist of a group-research project. For this purpose, the class will be divided into five groups. Each group will select one out of five pre-selected topics. Results will be reported in a term paper and orally in a class presentation.

Methods of Evaluation:
Students' performance will be evaluated by three term examinations, a final examination, and the group-research project. Term examinations will consist of questions in short essay format and account for 20 points each. The presentation of the group-research project will account for the last 20 points of the grade. Each the oral presentation and the term paper will account for 10 points.

- Costanza, R. 1991. Ecological Economics; The Science and Management of Sustainability. New York: Columbia University Press. 525 pp.
- Jansson, A., M. Hammer, C. Folke, and R. Costanza. 1994. Investing in Natural Capital; The Ecological Approach to Sustainability. Washington D.C.: Island Press. 504 pp.

Additional Material:
- Costanza, R., B. G. Norton, and B. D. Haskell. 1992. Ecosystem Health; New Goals for Environmental Management. Washington D.C.: Island Press. 269pp.
- Odum, H. T. 1983. Systems Ecology; An Introduction. N.Y. John Wiley & Sons.!

Course Content/ Weekly Schedule:
(1/21) 1. Definitions, Comparisons, and Paramount Positions
(1/23) 2. Introduction to Energy Systems and Energy Language
(1/28) 3. Energy Concepts and Laws of Thermodynamics
(1/30) 4. Economic Systems and the Nation
(2/04) 5. Neoclassical vs. Biophysical Economics
(2/11) 6. Revisiting Natural Resource Scarcity and Economic Growth.
(2/13) 7. Revisiting Natural Resource Scarcity and Economic Growth (cont)
(2/15) 8. Exam 1

B. Sustainability
(2/18) 1. What Do We Want To Sustain?
(2/20) 2. A Value Theory for Sustainability
(2/25) 3. Sustainability, Discounting and Intergenerational Transfers
(2/27) 4. Reserve Rationality and the Precautionary Principle
(3/04) 5. Economic Biases and Incentives for Sustainability
(3/06) 6. Exam 2

C. Natural Capital
(3/11) 1. Investing in Natural Capital
(3/13) 2. The Economic Value of Natural Capital
(3/25) 3. Natural Requirements to the Human Economy
(3/27) 4. Environmental Macroeconomics; Optimal Allocation, and Optimal Scale
(4/01) 5. Adjustments to National Accounts; the ISEW Index
(4/03) 6. Energy Consumption, Sustainability and Natural Capital
(4/08) 7. Cultural Capital and the Sustainable Use of Natural Capital
(4/10) 8. Exam 3

D. Ecosystem Health
(4/15)1. Concepts and Measurements of Ecosystem Health
(4/17)2. Accounting in Ecological Systems

E. The Ecological Economics Views to Economic, Technical and Socio-Political Systems.
(4/22)1. Ecol - Econ -- Group Presentation
(4/24)2. Ecol - Econ -- Group Presentation
(4/29)3. Ecol - Econ -- Group Presentation
(5/01)4. Ecol - Econ -- Group Presentation
(Week of May 5-9) 5. Final Exam