NIFK23004U Global Challenges in Environment and Development

Volume 2024/2025

MSc Programme in Environment and Development
MSc Programme in Global Environment and Development (MERGED)


The planet and humankind face major current environment and development challenges, including climate change, losses of natural habitats and biodiversity, poverty, and non-sustainable food production systems. Using selected problems and cases, the purpose of this course is to understand how social and natural sciences address the relationship between environment and development. 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 through active participation in discussions, group work, and essay writing. The course thus introduces students to tools and frameworks, which can be used to think and generate knowledge across disciplines. The course places particular focus on countries in the Global South and includes cases from the Global North. During the course, the students write a group based essay, which along with the rest of the curriculum forms the basis for individual oral exams. The course is mandatory for the MSc Programme in the Environment and Development and for the MSc Programme in Global Environment and Development (MERGED). 

Learning Outcome

After completing the course the students should:


  • Understand the ways different disciplines address environment and development challenges
  • Be acquainted with current debates on environment and development issues, including those related to agricultural production;
  • Be familar with challenges at the intersections of economic growth, social development, and environmental protection; 



  • Evaluate and differentiate approaches to environment and development challenges from a variety of disciplines;
  • Problematize the relationship between environment and development and formulate related relevant research questions 
  • Apply concepts from different disciplines when working with environment and development topics 



Towards the end of the course, students should be able to (i) critically reflect on and discuss approaches to challenges in environment and development, and (ii) Cooperate with persons from different disciplinary backgrounds using different data sources relevant to understanding environment and development challenges.

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

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
The key teaching and learning activities are a mix of traditional lectures, 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.
  • 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
Oral exam on basis of previous submission, 20 minutes including assessment
Type of assessment details
Oral examination, 20 minutes including assessment. No preparation time. The exam starts with a five minutes individual presentation of the obligatory written group essay, and relates to all the curriculum.

In order to access the oral exam students must have submitted a group essay.
Only certain aids allowed

The students may bring a hardcopy of their assignment and one page of notes.

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners

Same as ordinary exam.

If the student has not handed in the group essay, then it must be handed in three weeks prior to the re-exam. It must be approved before the exam.

Criteria for exam assesment

See learning outcomes.