Contemporary Environmental Issues A

Subject ENST90022 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2015.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 2 hours of lectures/seminars per week.
Total Time Commitment:

170 hours





Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects:


Core Participation Requirements:

The Melbourne School of Land and Environment (MSLE) welcomes applications from students with disabilities. It is University and School policy to take reasonable steps to make reasonable adjustments so as to enable the student’s participation in the School’s programs. MSLE contributes to the New Generation degrees and offers a broad range of programs across undergraduate and post-graduate levels many of which adopt a multi-disciplinary approach.

Students of the School’s courses must possess intellectual, ethical, and emotional capabilities required to participate in the full curriculum and to achieve the levels of competence required by the School. Candidates must have abilities and skills in observation; motor in relevant areas; communication; in conceptual, integrative, and quantitative dimensions; and in behavioural and social dimensions.

Adjustments can be provided to minimise the impact of a disability, however students need to be able to participate in the program in an independent manner and with regard to their safety and the safety of others.

I. Observation: In some contexts, the student must be able to observe demonstrations and experiments in the basic and applied sciences. More broadly, observation requires reading text, diagrams, maps, drawings and numerical data. The candidate should be able to observe details at a number of scales and record useful observations in discipline dependant contexts.

II. Communication: A candidate should be able to communicate with fellow students, professional and academic staff, members of relevant professions and the public. A candidate must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively. Communication includes not only speech but also reading and writing.

III. Motor: Candidates should have sufficient motor function necessary for participation in the inherent discipline-related activities. The practical work, design work, field work, diagnostic procedures, laboratory tests, require varying motor movement abilities. Off campus investigations may include visits to construction sites, urban, rural and/or remote environments.

IV. Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities: These abilities include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis, and synthesis. Problem solving, the critical skill demanded of professionals in land and environment industries, requires all of these intellectual abilities. In addition, the candidate should be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structures.

V. Behavioural and Social Attributes: A candidate must possess behavioural and social attributes that enable them to participate in a complex learning environment. Students are required to take responsibility for their own participation and learning. They also contribute to the learning of other students in collaborative learning environments, demonstrating interpersonal skills and an understanding of the needs of other students. Assessment may include the outcomes of tasks completed in collaboration with other students.

Students who feel their disability will prevent them from meeting the above academic requirements are encouraged to contact the Disability Liaison


Melbourne Graduate School of Science

Faculty of Science The University of Melbourne

Victoria 3010

Tel: + 61 3 8344 6128

Fax: +61 3 8344 3351


Subject Overview:

Environmental Sustainability and Behaviour Change

In 2014 the special topic for this subject will be behaviour change for sustainability. It is perhaps obvious that many human behaviours impact negatively on our environment. Behavioural change, thus, is pivotal to ensuring a more environmentally sustainable future. However the question of behavioural change is vexed. Some argue that humans are ‘naturally’ greedy and selfish, others suggest that we are ‘puppets’ - the victims of the social structures engendered by capitalism, and yet others trust that right behaviour will follow from correct knowledge about environmental problems. These and other views of behaviour set up particular change strategies. The above examples suggest that key to changing behaviour can be found in providing people with incentives that will lead them to “choose” different behaviours, transformation of social structures, or the provision of environmental education. . This subject examines the question of behavioural change from a number of disciplinary perspectives so that their purported differences can be understood and reconciled. Studies from the disciplines of psychological, sociological, behavioural economics and marketing are used to problematise behavioural change. These perspectives provide a basis for understanding how behavioural change is constructed as a problem and the change strategies particular constructions engender. Students will be given an opportunity to critically assess one of these behavioural change paradigms and then work with fellow students to construct, test and evaluate a behaviour change strategy that leads to more environmentally sustainable behaviour in their home, workplace or the university.

On completion of this subject, students will be able to:

  • evaluate the ways that different theoretical perspectives inform behaviour change strategies; and
  • integrate knowledge from across disciplines to propose strategies for encouraging sustainable behaviour;
  • design and evaluate behaviour change strategies.

Topics include:

  • defining behaviour;
  • perspectives on behaviour from psychology, marketing, behavioural economics, and sociology;
  • strategies for promoting more sustainable behaviour proposed by psychology, marketing, behavioural economics, and sociology;
  • issues in integrating disciplinary perspectives on behaviour and change;
  • opportunities for interdisciplinary approaches to behaviour change; and
  • evaluating behaviour change strategies.
Learning Outcomes:
  • Gain advanced analytical skills related to contemporary environmental issues.
  • Become familiar with current debates in contemporary environmental issues relating to this subject.
  • Expand their knowledge of environmental theories.
  • Research an individual topic in the specialised area of study of this subject.
  • One 1,500 word written assignment, due in the middle of semester (worth 35%).
  • One 3,500 word written assignment, due at the end of semester (worth 65%).
Prescribed Texts:

The subject coordinator will provide a list of required readings.

Recommended Texts:


Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • Independent research on topics relevant to the subject.
  • Participate successfully in group discussions.
  • Further develop their critical thinking through readings, class discussions, collaboration and assessment.
  • Further develop analytical approaches and knowledge in contemporary environmental issues.
Links to further information:
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 150 Point Master of Development Studies
200 Point Master of Development Studies
Climate Change
Climate Change
Governance, Policy and Communication
Sustainable Cities, Sustainable Regions
Sustainable Cities, Sustainable Regions

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