NNDK21000U Cancelled Sustainability – History of Concepts and Practices

Volume 2020/2021

This highly interactive summer school offers students interested in sustainability from all disciplines the opportunity to gain skills in analyzing historical literature and data, and applying that information to on-going and emerging complex socio-environmental problems for which there are no easy answers, i.e., so-called ‘wicked problems’. While ‘sustainability’ is relatively recent terminology, the concept has been developing over several centuries in response to changes in culture, society and scientific knowledge.


The course will be organized into two parts: a four-week on-line part (25 hours per week) and a two-week on-campus part (full time). During the on-line part, students will be introduced to the history of the concept via online teaching, readings, discussions of readings, and tasks to prepare for the on-campus portion. They will have the opportunity to coordinate with the instructor on disciplinary and research interests, as they tie together historical analysis with current practice

During the on-campus portion, students will be placed into interdisciplinary groups, each of which will propose how to address a current or emerging socio-environmental problem by using historical lessons learned, and then present their results to the entire group for discussion.

Learning Outcome

By participating actively in this course, you will acquire the following knowledge, skills, and competencies:



You will be able to place the concept of sustainability into historical context, accounting for scientific, societal, cultural, and geographical influences over time and space.



You will be able to conduct primary and secondary source research, collecting and analyzing historical materials applicable to present-day environmental problems.



You will be able to

  • critically analyze historical literature/data, reflecting on the strengths and weaknesses of arguments and data;
  • connect your analysis to current environmental problems and precisely communicate your findings in terms relevant to your field.

Students will engage with texts introducing the history of the concept of sustainability, its interdisciplinary nature, and its continued development in the 21st century. The course content will use real world case studies—historical, in the recent past, and current—including, for example, forestry, fisheries, agriculture, water resources, climate change, energy.

Lectures, online exercises, group work, and practical workshops.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 30
  • E-Learning
  • 100
  • Project work
  • 50
  • Exam
  • 26
  • Total
  • 206
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)

Other forms of feedback during the face to face part of the course:

* individual and collective oral feedback from the teacher and peers

* oral feedback during group work

* collective oral feedback from the teacher during supervision of group work

* oral and written feedback from teacher and peers following project presentations

* short written feedback on the final exam project.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, 3 weeks
Take-home assignment consisting of four small exercises posted during the on-line part of the course and a written project to be produced during the on-campus part of the course and in the following week. All five parts of the assignment must be handed in on a specific date in August 2021. The assignment will be assessed as a collected whole.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
passed/not passed
Censorship form
No external censorship
One internal examiner

Same as the ordinary one

Criteria for exam assesment

See learning outcomes