|About this course:|
|Course work includes:|
|6 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)|
|No residential school|
Environmental concerns are broad ranging. They include global climate change; anxieties about food, polluted air, management of waste, squandering natural resources, disappearance of species and habitats; concerns over how our actions will affect future generations; and disquiet over the genetic modification of living organisms. This exciting and innovative course introduces the scientific, technological and social factors that are important in informing your approaches to these concerns. Drawing on a wide range of issues, it encourages you to understand and debate environmental changes and responses, and to consider why environmental questions are often the source of political and scientific contests and conflict.
Modules at Level 2 assume that you are suitably prepared for study at this level. If you want to take a single module to satisfy your career development needs or pursue particular interests, you don’t need to start at Level 1 but you do need to have adequately prepared yourself for OU study in some other way. Check with our Student Registration & Enquiry Service to make sure that you are sufficiently prepared.
No current presentation - see Future availability
|This course is expected to start for the last time in February 2013.|
Environmental issues are a growing source of both collective and individual concern, conflict and challenge. This interfaculty course provides an integrated approach to the various relationships, processes and activities through which humans and non-humans are linked together. Combining detailed treatments of particular subjects with connecting themes that are developed throughout, the course offers a range of resources to help you to understand, debate and act with regard to environmental issues. By the end of it you should feel confident that you have learned more about particular aspects of environments. You should also have picked up tools and skills which you can apply to environmental issues you may encounter.
The course uses a variety of media in its teaching: video and audio, websites, computer-based interactive resources and electronic conferencing. Four books make up its core:
Understanding environmental issues asks ‘How can we approach the study of environments?’ ‘Why are environmental questions so pressing?’ and ‘How can we make sense of environmental issues?’ The book begins with an investigation of an estuary, in order to set up the basic course themes of environmental changes, environmental contests and environmental responses. The issues touched on here include sea-level change, over-fishing, nuclear waste disposal, and management of biodiversity. The remaining three chapters take the topic of species extinction to introduce the course concepts of time/space, values/power/action, and risk/uncertainty.
Changing environments asks ‘How and why do environments change?’, ‘How do we determine the consequences and significance of change?’ and ‘How can we represent, model and predict changes and their consequences?’ With chapters covering the dynamic physical, biological and social processes underlying Earth systems, population–resource relationships, environmental changes affecting land, atmosphere and water, and the process of uneven development, the book’s aim is to demonstrate that change in the world is the norm, but that its consequences can vary markedly between places and over time. The analytical concepts developed in this book are time/space.
Contested environments asks ‘How and why do contests over environmental issues arise?’, ‘How are environmental understandings produced?’ and ‘Can environmental inequalities be reduced?’ There are chapters dealing with genetically modified crops, landscapes, energy supply, water wars, global trade, valuation of the environment, environmental justice, and how environmental issues are presented in the media. The aim of this book is to open up different perspectives on environmental values, contests and conflicts. The key concepts developed here are values/power/action.
Environmental responses focuses on the questions ‘What tools and approaches are available for managing environmental problems and how useful are they?’, ‘What kinds of environmental future are desirable and how might we choose among them?’ and ‘What are the constraints and opportunities for sustainable development?’ The opening chapter develops the theme of risk and uncertainty by taking examples of radioactivity and radioactive waste in Cumbria to examine the relationship between science and society. The next chapter, taking the built environment, looks at the technical problems encountered in managing risks. Three areas of policy debate are then covered: the problem of ‘greening’ the economy; the problem of achieving participative and democratic ways of dealing with environmental controversies; and the difficulties facing political response to the global problems of climate change. The course concludes with a debate on environmental futures between optimistic and pessimistic perspectives. The key concept developed in this book is risk/uncertainty.
Project work You will undertake a small-scale project, looking either at a locality or at a selected environmental issue. The aim of the project is to apply one of the key analytical concepts of the course (time/space, values/power/action, risk/uncertainty) to your chosen topic.
The study of environmental issues will equip you with a range of skills that are much sought after in a changing labour market and, in particular, could open up possibilities in the areas of environmental management and policy, and planning.
U216 is a Level 2 course and you need to have developed basic study skills, obtained either from Level 1 study with The Open University or from equivalent work at another university. If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.
The best preparation is to search quality newspapers and television programmes for items about environmental issues and policies. Read periodicals such as New Scientist, and look for environment-related articles and editions in journals of all kinds. As this is an interfaculty course, we strongly recommend obtaining The Sciences Good Study Guide (A. Northedge et al., The Open University) and the Guide to Good Essay Writing (P. Redman, Sage).
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.
The course is heavily illustrated and makes active use of figures and video, but we are committed to making it as accessible as possible. You will be able to choose a project that does not require fieldwork. The study materials are available in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). Components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Written transcripts are available for the audio-visual material and the printed study material is available in comb-bound format and in the DAISY Digital Talking Book format. You will need to spend considerable amounts of time using a personal computer and the internet. Our Services for disabled students website has the latest information about availability.
If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Services for disabled students website for more information, including:
Course books, other printed materials, CD-ROMs, DVD, audio CDs, website, online forums.
A DVD player. You will also need to be able to listen to audio CDs.
You will need a computer with internet access to study this course. It includes online activities – you can access using a web browser – and some course software provided on disk.
You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information including the details of the support we provide.
You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the course. Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.
The assessment details for this course can be found in the facts box above.
You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.
This course may help you to gain recognition from a professional body. You can view or download our Recognition leaflet 3.2 Royal Town Planning Institute and 3.3 Professional Engineering Institutions for further information.
The details given here are for the course that starts in January 2013 when it will be available for the last time. A new course in the same area Environment: sharing a dynamic planet (DST206) is available from October 2013.
Students who studied this course also studied at some time:
We regret that we are currently unable to accept registrations for this course. Where the course is to be presented again in the future, relevant registration information will be displayed on this page as soon as it becomes available.
“I really struggled with this course as there seemed to be no definite answers, only suggestions that have consequences for ...”
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The Open University is the world’s leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you’re at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you’ll be supported throughout your studies – your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.
For more information read Distance learning explained.
|About this course:|
|Course work includes:|
|6 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)|
|No residential school|
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