Climate-related Economics and Social Sciences
In these courses, you become familiar with the economic and social science basics in order to apply this knowledge to climate related problems. You may put your focus on Climate Policy, Climate Economics, Human-Environment Interactions, Security aspects or Climate Communication: You will learn to evaluate climate-energy-economy scenarios, gain a fundamental understanding of human-environment interactions and learn how to assess the societal impacts and conflicts of climate change. The lectures present and discuss the logics of mass media and the interplay between scientists, journalists and other actors in public debates. In general, courses in this track clarify the place of the social sciences within climate science in comparison to the natural sciences.
Courses 1. Semester:
Climate Policy Scenarios: Economics, Integrative Assessments and Negotiations (Compulsory, 3 Credit Points)
Learning Outcomes: Students have an overview on the economic foundation and evaluation of coupled climate-energy-economy scenarios, the inventory based determination of forest stocks and management scenarios aiming in-depth at one particular policy measure, and the structure and processes of intergovernmental negotiations.
Contents: Principles of economic welfare theory such as the concept of utility functions, social preferences and social planner, fundamental theorems in welfare economics, types of market failure; climatetarget oriented integrated assessment, derivation of costs of policy interventions; based on the IPCC Guidelines on AFOLU (Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use), GHG reporting within the UNFCCC process. This will be done by the example of negotiations on the crediting of GHG mitigation measures in the forestry sector and the forest based industries.
Educational Concept: Interactive Lectures (1 SWS, October - December) and subsequent block seminar (1 SWS, March)
Course Lecturers: H. Held, M. Köhl, A. Wolf
Human-Environment Interactions and Climate Change: Security and Sustainability (Compulsory, 3 Credit Points)
Learning Outcomes: Students have a fundamental understanding of human- environment interactions, are able to assess the societal impacts and conflicts of climate change and know the conceptual, normative and theoretical foundations of security and sustainability of resource use and public goods.
Contents: Based on a framework of human-environment interactions in the Anthropocene, the complex relationship between climate change and socio-economic systems is assessed, with a focus on the security and sustainability dimensions. Factors and conditions of environmental change and resource conflicts are critically discussed, with a focus on the debate on climate change and human security, including water scarcity, food insecurity, flood and storm disasters and environmental migration in regional hot spots. The role of sustainable development in stabilizing human environment interactions is discussed. Starting with definitions and classifications of the sustainability concept, ethical schools and normative values are introduced as well as the role of market prices and non-market services; internalization of externalities and public goods. Historical and recent perspectives and development in security and sustainability are presented.
Educational Concept: Lectures (2 SWS) with homework assignments
Course Lecturers: J. Scheffran, U. Schneider
Introduction to Social Sciences and Climate Communication (Compulsory, 3 Credit Points)
Learning Outcomes: Students have acquired an understanding of (a) the place of the social sciences within science, (b) key social science concepts in their application to science and (c) the role and dynamics of public and media communication about climate change, climate policy and climate science.
Contents: This course clarifies the place of the social sciences within science in comparison to the natural sciences. It introduces key social science concepts such as social roles, norms, and organisation. The course will use the case of climate change communication as one particularly relevant example of science communication to present and discuss both, the logics of the mass media and the study of the interplay of scientists, journalists and other actors in public debates about climate change. A cross-cutting theme will be to introduce social-scientific reasoning and how this can contribute to an integrated study of climate change.
Educational Concept: Interactive Lectures (2 SWS)
Course Lecturers: M. Brüggemann, S. Rödder
Introduction to Social Sciences’ Methods (Elective, 3 Credit Points)
Learning Outcomes: Students are familiar with the most common quantitative and qualitative research methodologies in the social sciences: interview, survey, participant observation and content analysis.
Contents: The aim of this course is to introduce students with a background in natural sciences or geography to relevant quantitative and qualitative research methodologies in the social sciences: interview, survey, participant observation and content analysis. The course consists of short interactive lectures and a research exercise planned as a research internship in which the students pursue their own research questions, working with real data to gain some practical experience in data acquisition and analysis in the social sciences. The course will be held in several block lectures in the second half of the winter term (January). After the lectures, students will work on their own research projects and present findings at a small conference end of March.
Educational Concept: Interactive Lecture with practical applications of methods (2 SWS)
Course Lecturers: M. Brüggemann, L. Guenther
Courses 2. Semester:
Energy Landscape and Climate Policy (Elective, 3 Credit Points)
Learning Outcomes: The students have an understanding of the key factors and patterns in energy landscapes and climate policy on national and international levels, and are able to assess different energy pathways according to multiple criteria and strategies.
Contents: Introduction to geographic, socio-economic and political aspects of energy landscapes, resources and technologies, including fossil, nuclear and renewable energy systems. Different assessment dimensions will be covered: energy security and sustainability; environmental impacts and CO2-emissions from energy production; climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies; comparison of energy and climate policy regimes and institutions; energy transformation and governance mechanisms.
Educational Concept: Lectures (2 SWS)
Course Lecturer: J. Scheffran
Models of Human-Environment Interaction (Elective, 3 Credit Points)
Learning Outcomes: Students have achieved knowledge and basic skills about models and integrated frameworks of human-environment interaction, including major model types, computational means and software tools, and key phenomena at the intersection of human and natural systems.
Contents: The lecture provides an introduction to models of human- environment interaction, relevant in integrative geography, complexity science, conflict research, climate and sustainability science. Overview of basic model types: dynamic systems and spatial models, statistical and probability models, complex adaptive systems and cellular automata, agent-based and network models, game theory, decision and optimization models, integrated assessment and world models. Instructive application areas will be used to demonstrate the relevance of models at the intersection of environmental and socio-economic systems, including climate change, energy, natural resources, sustainable development, environmental conflict and cooperation.
Educational Concept: Lectures (2 SWS)
Course Lecturer: J. Scheffran
Estimating Sustainable Land Use (Elective, 3 Credit Points)
Learning Outcomes: Students will learn how to design, program, and apply an integrated assessment model for the investigation of sustainable land use pathways.
Contents: Integrated agricultural sector analysis; Partial equilibrium modelling; Applied mathematical programming with GAMS (Numerical solution to constrained optimization problems); Environmental policy analysis (Internalization of ecosystem services); Weak and strong sustainability; Ecological guardrails; Dynamic optimization under uncertainty; Value of information.
Educational Concept: Lectures with many hands-on exercises in computer lab
Course Lecturer: Prof. Uwe Schneider
Integrated Climate-Economic Modeling (Elective, 3 Credit Points)
Learning Outcomes: Students have an overview on integrated climate-economic modeling that supports an assessment of how, and by what policy instruments global warming could be mitigated.
Contents: The status of the scientific arguments behind global warming mitigation targets and instruments is reviewed, covering competing schools within climate economics. The necessary modeling tools are introduced together with a module-adjusted short course on resource economics and economic growth theory.
Educational Concept: Lectures (2 SWS) in an interactive format (interactive elements: discussion of homework; test exam and discussion)
Course Lecturer: H. Held
Climate Communication Research (Elective, 6 Credit Points)
Learning Outcomes: Students will have learned about current patterns and dynamics in the global debate on climate change: How do scientists, journalists and political actors interact and produce public communication about climate change? Why is the climate debate different in different media contexts and in different countries? By exploring these questions in small projects, students get an enhanced understanding of climate communication, of how to conduct qualitative content analysis and how to collaborate with students across disciplines.
- Current research in the field of climate communication
- The climate debate in different countries
- Traditional ways of climate reporting and new types of outlets
- How to do qualitative (and quantitative) content analysis
Educational Concept: Seminar (2 SWS): Groups of students from journalism studies and from ICSS will work together on small research projects on climate communication, doing a content analysis of climate coverage in different countries or different kinds of news outlets.
Course Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Michael Brüggemann
Courses 3. Semester:
Microeconomics (Elective, 3 Credit Points)
Learning Outcomes: Students have learned the tools to understand and conduct applied microeconomic analysis.
Contents: This course covers key concepts in the areas of consumer and producer theory, market equilibria, welfare analysis and game theory. It provides both intuition and formal treatment of standard microeconomic theory supplemented by insights from behavioral economics.
Educational Concept: Lectures (2 SWS) and Practical (1 SWS)
Course Lecturer: G. Perino
Integrated Assessment Modelling of Global Change (Elective, 3 Credit Points)
Learning Outcomes: Students have gained a general understanding of integrated assessment models of global change.
Contents: The seminar provides an introduction to integrated assessment modelling of global change. The course considers climate engineering, Negishi-weighting and delayed climate policy with a view to their implementation in the integrated assessment models DICE, RICE, MIND and REMIND.
Educational Concept: Seminar (2 SWS)
Course Lecturers: H. Held, S. Hokamp
Decision under Uncertainty in the Integrated Assessment of the Energy- Climate Problem (Elective, 6 Credit Points)
Learning Outcomes: Students will have obtained the pre-requisites to start a master thesis within climate-economic modeling that is dealing with mitigation, impact or adaptation issues under system response uncertainty. This includes a treatment of uncertainty and interpretation of model results. The outcomes of and the key assumptions behind some major modeling assessments within the climate policy arena will have been obtained during the course.
Contents: Treatment of uncertainty in climate-economic modeling with respect to climate and the techno-economic system properties as well as global warming impacts. In-depth discussion of model assumptions including underlying theories within macroeconomics as well as climate science and land use economics. Treatment of uncertainty including stylized decision under (predominantly epistemic) uncertainty, made up by uncertain system properties/model parameters.
Educational Concept: Interactive lectures (4 SWS)
Course Lecturer: H. Held
Climate Policy: Actors, Institutions, Instruments (Elective, 3 Credit Points)
Learning Outcomes: The central learning outcome of the course is to enable students to understand the evolution, dynamic and specificities of climate policy as a field of public policy, as well as its relation to and inheritances from other, adjacent policy domains. The focus is on the global and European levels.
Contents: Since the 1990s, climate policy has progressively evolved into a policy domain with its own dynamic, institutions, instruments and actor coalitions. While institution-building at the global and European levels (UNFCCC, Kyoto Protocol and Paris agreement, EU Directorate-General for Climate Action) indicates an increasing autonomy of the field, climate policy is also characterized by pathdependences from adjacent policy domains, such as technological and cognitive lock-ins in energy policy, or existing actors coalitions in environmental policy. Drawing on examples from the European and global levels, the course will analyze the historical evolution and shaping of climate policy, with a focus on actors, instruments and framings. We will also discuss the paradoxes and failures of climate policy, as well as the intrinsic difficulties to effectively regulate global climate change.
Educational Concept: The course combines readings, empirical examples from my own research, presentations and discussion formats, in which current evolutions in climate policy are analyzed through the prism of the academic literature.
Course Lecturers: Prof. Dr. Stefan C. Aykut