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Principles of Sustainable Development

Admission Requirements
Bachelor’s degree in any academic subject

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the course, the student is able to:


  • Describe sustainable development and the importance of facing global challenges in a cooperative way;
  • Identify the Sustainable Development Goals and their implications;
  • Explain ecosystems and their dependence on climate change.


  • Examine policies, regulations and laws on climate change;
  • Use qualitative and quantitative analysis of sustainable development.


  • Critically evaluate environmental problems and solutions
  • Write reports on sustainable development
  • Use research methods to study problems around sustainable development


Aim of the course

The aim of this course is to provide the participants with specific and in-depth knowledge of sustainable development. Students, after completing the module, should be able to critically read, analyze, and interpret environmental and sustainable development issues and situations, reflecting on the challenges to achieve a sustainable future.

The “Principles of Sustainable Development” course introduces sustainability and sustainable development to master’s students. The idea behind this course is to provide students with in-depth knowledge of what sustainability really means, to understand its core principles before adding to the knowledge of complex systems thinking. The course explores how human societies can face global change, ecosystem degradation and resource limitations.

During the course, students will get to understand how sustainability is a cross-disciplinary field of study, and how everything is interrelated in a bigger network. That is the reason why an introduction to sustainable development is fundamental to understanding the challenges of our future, while reasoning about possible solutions.

The course “Principles of Sustainable Development can be divided into different units, as follows:

  • an introduction to sustainable development and the SDGs
  • ecosystems and climate change
  • the shortage of natural resources vs an increase in global population
  • sustainable water, agriculture, and cities
  • education for sustainable development methods
  • existing regulations and policies.

The course material will be made of online resources, bibliography, and case-studies as well, in order to guarantee a 360° perspective of sustainable development to students. Students will be encouraged to work together through brainstorming and collaboration, as sustainability requires joint efforts in the real-world context.


Recommended readings

  • Carson, R., 2009. Silent spring. 1962.
  • Meadows, D.H., Meadows, D.L., Randers, J. and Behrens, W.W., 2018. The limits to growth. In Green planet blues (pp. 25-29). Routledge.
  • Robinson, M., 2018. Climate justice: Hope, resilience, and the fight for a sustainable future. Bloomsbury publishing.
  • Rockstrom, J., 2015. Big world, small planet: abundance within planetary boundaries. Yale University Press.
  • Thunberg, G., 2022. The climate book. Allen Lane.

Teaching Methodology

The teaching methodology used in this course consists in:

  • Lectures;
  • Seminars and Tutorials;
  • Independent Study;
  • E-learning.

ECTS Credits

I semester

Examination methodology

Assessment will take the form of:

  • A 2,000-word Sustainable Development Strategy for a country of choice;
  • Group debates on contested topics relating to sustainable development.

The “Principles of Sustainable Development” course is an introductory course to sustainability and sustainable development. Since the aim of the Joint Curriculum is to create a course to teach sustainability through a complex systems approach, a module to explain to students what sustainable development actually means is mandatory.

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