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PhD courses

ICIS-Maastricht University Graduate School on Sustainability Science (MUST)  organizes various PhD courses.  These courses are interesting for PhD students working on the human dimensions of global change, modelling complex societal dynamics, transitions and transitions management, and issues of sustainable development and sustainability science at large.

The Courts and Environmental Conflicts: The Case of Climate Change

Date: 1 Devember 2015. Place: ICIS, Kapoenstraat 2, Maastricht

Symposium Humans, Animals and Nature: A Sustainable Relationship?

1-day symposium Thursday 9th April, 2015

Venue: Maastricht University; Kapoenstraat 2, Maastricht

Detailed information on speakers and lectures

Lecture slides:

Participatory Knowledge Development

Date: 4 and 5 December 2014 Place: ICIS, Kapoenstraat 2, Maastricht Aim and outline In matters of sustainable development, science, policy and society are entangled in many ways. Policy makers, for instance, will need scientific knowledge to justify and target their plans. Likewise, scientists hope to make their findings about sustainability useful and to inform policy makers. Policies for sustainability will have consequences for stakeholders such as business, NGOs and citizens. In this workshop we will investigate the ways in which scientific knowledge production and policy making are intertwined or clash. Special attention will be given to social interaction-based models of knowledge production. Hands-on application of novel approaches, theories and concepts on own and other’s PhD projects is at the heart of this interactive workshop. Thursday December 4th, 12:30-17:00, room 1.028 Gertjan Storm, Ron Cörvers, Annemarie van Zeijl-Rozema, Astrid Offermans, Joop de Kraker from ICIS Lectures about science and policy, typology of policy problems, joint knowledge production, different types of knowledge, handling knowledge claims and different values, co-creation and social learning. During the lectures there is ample time for discussion and reflection on own PhD research work. Friday December 5th, 09:00-17:00, room 2.006Prof. Mark Reed & Dr. Anna Evely Hands-on workshop on amongst others: developing a knowledge exchange strategy for your PhD, designing and facilitating workshops with the likely users of your research, and the use of social media to build relationships and co-generate knowledge with research users and stakeholders.

Global certifying partnerships and development

Date: 15 and 16 May 2014. Place: ICIS, Kapoenstraat 2, Maastricht

Sociotechnical Change: Lessons, Levels and Literature

Date: 14 and 21 October 2013. Place: ICIS, Kapoenstraat 2, Maastricht

Integrated Sustainability Assessment: Tool and Methods

Date: 24 and 27 June 2013. Place: ICIS, Kapoenstraat 2, Maastricht

Measuring Globalisation

Date: 22-23 November 2012; Place: ICIS, Kapoenstraat 2, Maastricht Content and purpose The quantitative monitoring of globalization has gained interest over the last years. Time is ripe for a new collaborative initiative in this area, in order to take stock of the work that has been done so far, and identify the needs and directions to advance the measurement, monitoring and modeling of globalization. Given the multi-dimensional character of globalization it is thereby crucial to strengthen communication and collaboration among researchers and practitioners working in different disciplinary fields. The lack of efficient cross-discipline communication is a bottleneck for creating better indicators and indicator systems for monitoring globalisation. Conceptual as well as technical and data issues need to be revised. The workshop should contribute to the advancement of the ways by which globalization is measured and monitored and, indirectly, to the quality of applied empirical research on the causes and consequences of globalization in different disciplines. This should be of benefit to policy-makers, scholars, and students. Topics and speakers: Panel 1: Globalization: What is it? Should it be measured? Can it be measured? Panel 2: Globalization indicators: State-of-the-art and ways forward. Panel 3: How ‘global’ are global networks? Applications of network analysis. Panel 4: Causes and consequences of globalization: new research questions, new empirical evidence. Confirmed speakers include:Jan-Aart Scholte (Warwick University), Lelio Iapadre (University of L’Aquila and UNU-CRIS), Glenn Rayp (Ghent University), Niklas Potrafke (University of Munich), Volker Nitsch (Darmstadt University of Technology and KOF-ETH), Marco Caselli (UCSC Milano)

Knowledge production for sustainable development

Date: 12 and 13 April 2012; Place: ICIS, Kapoenstraat 2, Maastricht

Content and purpose

Sustainability issues raise questions about the interrelationships between science, policy and society. The popular idea is that science produces knowledge that, when handed over to policy and society, will automatically will do its beneficial work – as data, methods or truths. This instrumental view is misleading for several reasons. First, knowledge production cannot be simply seen as the production of truth. Our knowledge is always mediated by our values, perspectives, theories and measurement tools. In particular in the case of sustainable development, it must deal with uncertainty (about impacts and causes), complexity (in terms of mutual dependences of actors and topics) and ambiguity. Second, what counts as useful and adequate knowledge is not easily determined, with people holding different views about this. Expectations about science have changed. During the last century, the relevance of science has changed, from a provider of enlightenment, to a societal problem solver or an economic motor. Third, the boundaries of ‘science’ and ‘politics’ are not fixed but constantly negotiated. This leads to efforts to draw and protect boundaries, as well as attempts to profit from blurred boundaries, such as with experiments of co-production of knowledge. Finally, given these intricacies, scientists can have different roles vis-à-vis policy and society. In this workshop we will review and discuss these four basic aspects of knowledge production for sustainable development.

Topics and speakers:

Day 1: Dynamics of knowledge production

  • The challenges of ‘sustainability science’, Jill Jäger
  • Changing science systems, Laurens Hessels
  • Roles of scientists for policy, Roger Pielke Jr
  • Working at the science-policy interface, René Kemp

Day 2: Politics of knowledge production

  • Policy problems and boundary work, Rob Hoppe
  • Discourses and storylines about SD, Jean Hugé Lunch
  • Controversies as conflicting frames, Eefje Cuppen
  • Politics of narratives, Harro van Lente

Global Change, Complexity and Sustainability

Content and purpose

Indications are that, contrary to mainstream economic and policy directions, the next 30 years will not be a simple extension of the past three decades. Climate trends already exceed the worst-case scenarios of the IPCC and are accelerating, the oceans are acidifying, fisheries are continuing to decline, deserts are advancing, petroleum supplies are in doubt (peak oil), tropical deforestation is continuing, etc. While there is universal agreement that these ecological outcomes are the product of prevailing global ‘development’ trends and are fundamentally unsustainable, no major government, mainstream international agency or transnational corporation has begun seriously to contemplate, let alone implement, the kinds of policies and programs necessary for sustainability. The implicit assumption is that society can safely continue to ‘trade-off’ the ‘environment’ for economic gain as long as the perceived short-term benefits exceed any losses. And even once we’ve moved beyond that point, technological development will suffice to mitigate the damage and get back on course. This assumption, at the heart of conventional global development strategies, assumes smooth change and predictable systems behaviour. However, it is increasingly clear that complex dynamic systems including ecosystems, economies and societies under stress, are characterized more by discontinuous, unpredictable behaviour, particularly by time lags and thresholds (surprise!). Pushed beyond critical bifurcation points (‘tipping points’), these systems may fall into unfamiliar stability domains that are incompatible with human needs and purposes. Indeed, periods of chaotic behaviour leading to catastrophic (to the existing system) changes may be normal stages of systems evolution in nature. The long history of human cultures that have collapsed from the heights of achievement never to rise again underscores difficulty of avoiding or reversing the process. This course examines global change and the dynamics of the global system through the lenses of complexity theory, chaos theory, transition theory and panarchy. These theories generally describe the overlapping hierarchical structure of complex systems, like ecosystems (lakes, forests, grasslands, etc.), human systems (governance systems, industrial sectors, corporations, settlements, etc.), and combined (socio-ecological) systems that now make up the ecosphere. Students will assess historic examples of systems evolution and implosion that may help in the analysis of contemporary cases of rapid global change. Does chaos theory with its unfamiliar notions of deterministic chaos, strange attractors, bifurcation points and rapid discontinuous change (catastrophe) apply to human systems? As importantly, to what extent are these theoretical concepts useful in the interpretation and management of these complex systems behaviours? Accelerating ecological, economic and social changes currently threaten to push the human enterprise beyond heretofore invisible tipping points into unknown and possibly hostile territory. ‘Planning’ is based on the assumption that humans can positively influence societal evolution and create desirable futures. In short, is it possible through foresight, analysis and planning to suspend human institutions and even whole cultures at or near optimal points in their developmental cycles so as to reduce the probability of traumatic collapse?

Learning Objectives

This course is intended to enable students to perceive and plan for global change from the non-conventional framework provided by complex systems theory, transition theory, and panarchy. At the end of the course, participants should be able to discuss and interpret:

  1. the principal drivers and systemic weaknesses of contemporary global development models;
  2. complexity, transitions theory, and panarchy and its relevance to: (i) historical cases of systems collapse at both the ecosystem as societal levels and (ii) prevailing global ecological and economic trends;
  3. the use of scenarios and /or modeling in analyzing these systems;
  4. the relevance of such concepts as systems stability, resilience, creative destruction and adaptive management, to contemporary planning for sustainability.

Course Organization

The course will feature lectures and a practical session. Following a series of introductory lecture/discussions on complex systems, climate change and panarchy and transition theory, we will turn our attention to the analysis of specific cases of systems change through the lenses provided by these theories, and by using scenarios or models. Cases will range from ecosystems collapses that were driven by and negatively affected the connected human community to the collapse of entire human cultures.

Faculty and Lectures October 2011