Available in 2022
Course code



10 units


3000 level

Course handbook


In contrast to the past 12,000 years of the Holocene’s relative stability, the Anthropocene refers to the profound and accelerating human transformations of the earth’s climate and environment. However, while it is necessary to acknowledge the accelerating global impact of humanity on our world, we also must recognise that such changes are not universal. Rather the Anthropocene produces and reproduces unequal geographies of political, social, cultural and economic relations. This course takes up the challenge proposed by philosophers, social scientists and scientists who argue that nothing less than a transformation of society is needed to move us towards a sustainable future. To respond to this challenge, students will critically examine conceptual, ethical and practical tools for rethinking and determining measures of sustainability. Insights from complexity theory, contemporary social thought, and non-western knowledges that can provide ways of reimagining cities, agriculture, everyday life, consumption and waste will provide opportunities for students to examine and evaluate current and proposed pathways and processes of transformation towards sustainability.

Previous course title - Sustainability: Theory and Practice

Availability2022 Course Timetables


  • Semester 1 - 2022

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Explain and critically evaluate contested notions of sustainable development, and develop their own concept of sustainability with reference to values, policies and futures;

2. Analyse current attempts to implement sustainability at local, regional and global levels;

3. Use and critically evaluate indicators of sustainability;

4. Analyse and comment on major issues in sustainability such as cities, agriculture, waste, and food lifestyle and consumption issues;

5. Apply key insights from complexity theory, contemporary social theory, non-western perspectives and transdisciplinary thinking to major issues in sustainability;

6. Engage constructively with diverse groups in building more sustainable futures.


Topics will be chosen from:

  1. Introduction to contested notions of sustainability and sustainable development
  2. Critical review of the history and theoretical basis of sustainability
  3. Ethical stances for sustainability
  4. Sustainability theory, including non-western knowledge systems, complexity theory and contemporary social theory
  5. Rethinking sustainability case studies, including agriculture, cities, everyday life, consumption, waste, and food.
  6. Assessment of sustainability initiatives and critical analysis of sustainability indicators
  7. Pathways and possibilities for sustainable futures


This course replaces EMGT3070. If you have successfully completed EMGT3070 you cannot enrol in this course.

Assumed knowledge

ENVS1004 (previously EMGT1020) and ENVS2008 (previously EMGT2020) are recommended.

Students enrolled in the B Arts program - Human Geography and the Environment Major, must have successfully completed GEOG1020 and GEOG2080, OR at least 20 units of 3000 level directed courses from this major.

Assessment items

Presentation: Group Presentation

Log / Workbook: Field Trip Report

Report: Sustainability Report

Quiz: Online Quizzes

Compulsory Requirements

In order to pass this course, each student must complete ALL of the following compulsory requirements:

General Course Requirements:

  • Field Study: Induction Requirement - Students must attend and pass the induction requirements before attending these sessions. - In order to participate in this course, students must complete and pass two online modules: (1) a compulsory safety and fieldwork induction module before attending the field trip, and (2) an academic integrity module

Contact hours


Field Study

Face to Face Off Campus 16 hour(s) per Term Full Term

Week/date to be advised. This includes field laboratories and computer laboratories conducted during an intensive field trip.

Online Activity

Online 2 hour(s) per Week for 11 Weeks

Online Modules.


Online 1 hour(s) per Week for 11 Weeks

Interactive Online drop-in session.

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.