NIFK23004U Global Challenges in Environment and Development

Volume 2023/2024

MSc Programme in Environment and Development
MSc Programme in Global Environment and Development


The planet and humankind face major current environment-development challenges, including climate change, losses of natural habitats and biodiversity, poverty, and non-sustainable food production systems. Using selected problems and cases at the environment-development nexus, the purpose of this course is to create a solid foundation for understanding how knowledge is generated and used in both the social and natural sciences. This includes (i) giving students a well-grounded understanding of key theoretical, conceptual, and practical debates and issues, and (ii) allowing them to experience interdisciplinary approaches to research and problem solving through active participation in discussions, group work, and individual essay writing. The course thus centers on selected global challenges and introduces students to tools and frameworks which can be used to think and generate knowledge across disciplines. 

This interdisciplinary course is mandatory and fundamental for the MSc Programme in Environment and Development and the MSc Programme in Global Environment and Development. It places particular focus on countries in the Global South.

Learning Outcome

After completing the course the students should:


  • Understand relationships between theory and practice at the environment-development nexus;
  • Be acquainted with current debates on environment-development issues, including in relation to agriculture and environmental products;
  • Be familar with challenges at the intersections of economic growth, social development, and environmental conservation;



  • Evaluate and differentiate approaches to environment-development questions from a variety of perspectives;
  • Analyse the value (validity and reliability) of data in the academic and policy literature;
  • Explore and challenge own disciplinary boundaries by cooperating with fellow students on solving problems using different data sources for environment-development challenges.



Towards the end of the course, students should be able to (i) critically reflect on and discuss approaches to global challenges at the environment-development nexus, (ii) reflect on the benefits and challenges related to interdisciplinary approaches, and (iii) demonstrate the values of scholarship: inquiry, reflection, integrity, open-mindedness, evidence-based thinking, and collegiality. 

The course curriculum consists of state-of-the-art book chapters, journal articles, and reports made available during the course.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
The course makes limited use of traditional lectures. The key teaching and learning activities are group discussions and exercises, student presentations, and written assignments. The learning activities draw on scientific articles and book chapters, but also on other media, such as grey literature and film documentaries.

The indicated readings for each week must be read prior to class in order to achieve the intended learning outcomes. Students who are unable to meet this requirement should not enroll in the course.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 40
  • Class Instruction
  • 10
  • Preparation
  • 96
  • Practical exercises
  • 24
  • Excursions
  • 6
  • Exam
  • 30
  • Total
  • 206
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, made during the course
Type of assessment details
The exam is a 2000 words individual essay submitted by the end of the course. Students will start working on the essay from the beginning of the course and there will be weekly opportunities for asking questions and getting feedback.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners

Re-examination will be a 2000-word essay and an oral defense of the essay. Students will get 24 hours to write the essay and the oral defense will last 20 minutes, no preparation time.

Criteria for exam assesment

See learning outcome.