The University of Newcastle, Australia
Available in 2020

Course handbook


The course focuses on the theory and application of 'sustainability' one of the key concepts in environmental policy, ethics and practice. It critically examines the contested nature of sustainability and sustainable development; explores the key ideas and concepts of sustainability theory; and considers the links between theoretical debates and the practical dimensions of implementing sustainability. This course takes up the challenge of philosophers and scientists who argue that - nothing less than a transformation is needed - to move us towards a sustainable future. To do this it explores conceptual, ethical and practical tools for rethinking sustainability. This includes the application of insights from complexity theory, contemporary social thought, and non-western knowledges to reimagining cities, agriculture, everyday life, consumption and waste. Additionally, the course critically examines indicators and measures of sustainability and considers pathways and processes of transformation towards sustainability.

Availability2020 Course Timetables


  • Semester 1 - 2020

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. Understand and 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 Tutorial Presentation

Report: Field Trip Report

Report: Sustainability Report

Formal Examination: Final Examination

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 a compulsory safety and fieldwork induction.

Contact hours


Field Study

Face to Face Off Campus 4 hour(s) per Week for 1 Weeks

Week/date to be advised.


Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for 11 Weeks


Face to Face On Campus 1 hour(s) per Week for 11 Weeks