ENS274 Socially Sustainable Degrowth

Faculty of Social Studies
Autumn 2014
Extent and Intensity
1/0/0. 4 credit(s). Type of Completion: zk (examination).
Mgr. Christian Kerschner, M.Sc., Dr. (lecturer)
RNDr. Naděžda Johanisová, Ph.D. (assistant)
Ing. Zbyněk Ulčák, Ph.D. (seminar tutor)
Guaranteed by
doc. Mgr. Bohuslav Binka, Ph.D.
Department of Environmental Studies - Faculty of Social Studies
Contact Person: Bc. Petra Burišková
Supplier department: Department of Environmental Studies - Faculty of Social Studies
Tue 30. 9. to Sun 14. 12. each even Tuesday 15:15–16:45 P22
Course Enrolment Limitations
The course is also offered to the students of the fields other than those the course is directly associated with.
The capacity limit for the course is 25 student(s).
Current registration and enrolment status: enrolled: 0/25, only registered: 0/25, only registered with preference (fields directly associated with the programme): 0/25
fields of study / plans the course is directly associated with
there are 20 fields of study the course is directly associated with, display
Course objectives
The global economy seems trapped in an ongoing social, political and ecological crisis. Most of these solutions that are offered are (paraphrasing Einstein) trying to address the problems with the same level of thinking that created them. This course will provide an introduction to a radically different approach, centred around a rejection of the ability and desirability of unlimited economic growth. Socially Sustainable Degrowth is an umbrella term for a vibrant and rapidly expanding scientific and civil society movement, which is exploring a prosperous way to adapt to a declining resource base (e.g. Peak-Oil), reduce our impact on ecological systems and improve people’s ability to engage in shaping their future.

Learning Aims:
• To discover the theoretical foundations and sources of the degrowth literature
• To develop a basic understanding of biophysical limits, in particular that of energy sources i.e. “Why is future continuous economic growth unlikely?”
• To be able to challenge the idea that employment, human progress welfare and happiness depend on income and economic growth.
• To provide students with the basic insights and tools in order to start their own (re)search for possible avenues for sustainable transformation of our society.
  • 1. What is Degrowth (DG) and the Steady State Economy (SSE)? How are these concepts different from that of 'Green Growth'?
  • 2. Sources of DG I: Voluntary simplicity, Anti-utilitarianism and critics of technology and development.
  • 3. Sources of DG II: Biophysical limits to growth. What does Peak-Oil and resource peaks mean? What future can we expect afterwards?
  • 4. Sources of DG III: Justice, happiness and good life without growth.
  • 5. Overview of the ongoing DG research agenda: work, money, needs, agro-ecology, etc.
    recommended literature
  • Alexander, S., 2013. Voluntary Simplicity and the Social Reconstruction of Law: Degrowth from the Grassroots Up. Environ. Values 22, 287–308. doi:10.3197/096327113X13581561725356
  • Bauhardt, C., 2014. Solutions to the crisis? The Green New Deal, Degrowth, and the Solidarity Economy: Alternatives to the capitalist growth economy from an ecofeminist economics perspective. Ecol. Econ. 102, 60–68. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2014.03.015
  • D’Alisa, G., Demaria, F., Kallis, G., 2014. Degrowth: A Vocabulary for a New Era. Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY.
  • Demaria, F., Schneider, F., Sekulova, F., Martinez-Alier, J., 2013. What is Degrowth? From an Activist Slogan to a Social Movement. Environ. Values 22, 191–215. doi:doi:10.3197/096327113X13581561725194
  • DIETZ, Rob and Daniel W. O'NEILL. Enough is enough : building a sustainable economy in a world of finite resources. 1st ed. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2013. x, 240. ISBN 9780415820950. info
  • Kallis, G., Kerschner, C., Martinez-Alier, J., 2012. The economics of degrowth. Ecol. Econ. 84, 172–180. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2012.08.017
  • Kerschner, C., 2010. Economic de-growth vs. steady-state economy. J. Clean. Prod. 18, 544–551.
  • LATOUCHE, Serge. Farewell to growth. Translated by David Macey. Malden, MA: Polity, 2009. viii, 124. ISBN 9780745646176. info
  • O’Neill, J.F., 2008. Happiness and the good life. Environ. Values 17, 125–144.
  • Van den Bergh, J.C.J.M., Kallis, G., 2012. Growth, A-Growth or Degrowth to Stay within Planetary Boundaries? J. Econ. Issues 46, 909–920. doi:10.2753/JEI0021-3624460404
Teaching methods
This course will be taught in a highly interactive way. Attendance and participation is very important. Students in pairs will have to read a short academic text (approximately 10 pages) and answer related questions (max. 800 words) in advance of each lesson. In class a debate will be initiated around these questions, preceded by some additional input via a short PowerPoint presentation by the lecturer.
Assessment methods
In-class participation in the debate (20%), homework (30%), final essay of between 1500 and 2500 words (50%).
Language of instruction
Further comments (probably available only in Czech)
The course is taught last offered.

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