What you will study
This online module is organised into four blocks, presented online through text, audio and video material. The main blocks are supported by a Techniques guide which is provided as a printed book.
Block 1 - Introducing environmental decision making
You will start by considering different meanings of decision making and, in particular, environmental decision making, together with various approaches to the decision-making process and the factors that influence that process. You will be expected to draw on your own experience as well as the module material and will work online with other students to review some of your own examples. The core case study on fracking will then be introduced and you will engage with the module framework, which provides a way of approaching environmental decision making from a systems viewpoint, as well as a structure for the module.
Block 2 - Exploring with systems
The first stages of the framework and this block are concerned with developing your systemic awareness and exploring situations, initially using systems diagrams and drawing on the case study, other real-life examples and your own experience. You will learn how to engage in environmental decision making by:
- using systems thinking supported by various tools
- appreciating multiple perspectives on situations
- formulating systems of interest in environmental decision-making situations.
You will review the ways that environmental legislation and schemes contribute to environmental decision making, using examples. At this stage of the module, you will also begin to monitor and evaluate your own learning.
Block 3 - Identifying change
You will next focus on the middle stages of the framework considering the purpose and transformation of systems of interest and what changes are both feasible and desirable. This block takes a critical look at economic and ecological rationalities and other issues and activities associated with rational choice and decision support, such as modelling. You will learn how to use models to make sense of complex situations and how to take factors such as risks and uncertainties into account. You will then move on to use practical tools to see how to address issues of participation and negotiation in environmental decision-making processes.
Block 4 - Taking action
The final block focuses on taking action and you will step back to consider the framework as a whole. It includes both systemic and systematic techniques and iteration because the framework is not intended to encourage a linear process. This block is concerned with the contexts, agency and tools for environmental action. It should help you to develop understanding and practice for environmental decision making and will explore how such understanding and practice are combined in the notion of 'praxis'. This block provides you with both a conceptual overview and some practical techniques, backed up with real-life examples and drawing on your own experience, and some key readings. You will engage in critical evaluation as an integral part of taking action and learn how to build evaluation into environmental decision making.
Your final use of the framework will be in the end-of-module assessment (EMA) for which the module prepares you gradually as you study. You will be able to choose an environmental decision-making situation of interest to you as a basis for this EMA.
This module will be of interest to you if you are or intend to become:
- a professional in an organisation, private or public, tasked with reducing the environmental impacts of projects and plans. You may be working in local and central government or in the business sector and be responsible for reviewing a range of environmental agendas and topics, charged with implementing environmental management schemes, improving environmental performance, or contracting and supplying consultancy services.
- a professional in international and local companies (e.g. dealing with goods and services) that are expanding and/or changing their market and examining the impact from all perspectives including environmental performance and risks to business
- someone who wants to develop your professional and/or personal competence relating to work, community or home by increasing your awareness and understanding of environmental change and governance responses
- someone who wants to enhance your conceptual and professional skills by developing an environmental perspective on management.