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Environmental management 1

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Environmental management can be understood as managing our relationship with the environment. For all of us, this relationship is under increasing pressure. Why is environmental management vital for our sustainability? What kind of environmental management do we need now? This online module explores the answers to questions like these by introducing ideas, approaches and techniques for environmental management at individual, organisational and community levels. Recognising that our understanding of human-environment relations is changing, this module combines conventional with innovative systems approaches to environmental management, including an approach to community participation which is taught through a series of group activities.

What you will study

This online module will provide an introduction to ways in which human-environmental systems are perceived, understood and managed by looking at them from a variety of perspectives, in order to develop awareness of more sustainable practices. The module uses systems concepts and techniques to introduce you to ideas and practices of conventional and innovative approaches to environmental management. The module introduces a non-prescriptive framework for environmental management with the following linked ‘learning cycle’ stages:

  • Reflecting – on a variety of environmental management situations
  • Connecting – our perspectives and ideas regarding different aspects of situations
  • Modelling – situations using a variety of conventional and innovative tools and techniques
  • Action – taking action to improve the situation.

These stages are explored in relation to a number of different environmental management situations with a particular focus on energy use in the home; the life cycle of information technologies in organisations; and in use of indicators to manage a natural resource such as water by communities. The module provides an introduction to aspects of some conventional techniques and approaches (e.g. sustainability indicators; life cycle analysis; sustainability assessments). Some core, innovative systems thinking and practice skills, including systems diagramming, will be introduced and used to expand your understanding of environmental management concepts and approaches.

The module is presented online in three blocks.

Block 1 – Environmental management in domestic contexts
The module begins by introducing key aims and presenting an overview of the concepts and practices of environmental management to be explored at the level of the individual. You will learn about environmental management in the context of your home, focusing on energy use. You will be introduced to systems tools to enable you to understand environmental situations and explore interactions between different parts of a system.

Block 2 – Environmental management in organisations
This block introduces environmental management within organisational contexts. You will explore how organisations manage their environmental impacts by concentrating on the life cycle of computing equipment and transport planning. You will learn about and use some systems ideas to expand your analysis and understanding of conventional practices for environmental management.

Block 3 – Environmental management for groups and communities
In the third block you will explore environmental management issues and approaches at the level of the group or community. The block focuses on water management in order to explore the range of stakeholders and diversity of perspectives within groups and communities. You will engage with other students in group work to review and make sense of a challenging case study. This will include assessing the role of environmental indicators, using systems techniques to develop scenarios and reviewing stakeholder engagement processes.

For the module as a whole, there are associated readings, activities and audio and video resources. The module draws on a range of international examples to explore approaches to environmental management in different contexts and situations.

You will learn

By the end of this module you will be able to understand and describe:

  • the relationship between environmental management and sustainable development
  • the ways in which environmental management is framed and its implications for environmental management at domestic, organisational and community levels
  • a range of conventional concepts, approaches and techniques for environmental management
  • a range of systems concepts and techniques for use with complex environmental situations.

You will also be able to demonstrate the:

  • ability to engage with and analyse a range of complex environmental management situations
  • application of appropriate tools and techniques including use of systems diagramming and modelling
  • analysis of multiple perspectives of different stakeholders
  • ability to report on an environmental situation and make initial recommendations
  • ability to work collaboratively as part of a group
  • critical awareness of conventional and systems approaches to environmental management.

Entry requirements

This is an OU level 2 module and you need to have a good knowledge of the subject area, obtained either through OU level 1, or by doing equivalent work at another university.

Our key introductory OU level 1 module Environment: journeys through a changing world (U116) would be ideal preparation.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

What's included

The majority of the study materials for this module are delivered online.

You'll have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific module materials
  • audio and video content
  • assignment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access.

A printed resource book will also be provided.

Computing requirements

A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

A desktop or laptop computer with either an up-to-date version of Windows or macOS.

The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will be responsible for monitoring your progress, marking and commenting on your written work and whom you can contact for advice and guidance. The online forum for the module also provides opportunities for lively and informative discussion with other students, tutors and members of the module team. Evidence of your participation in online forums will be required as part of your assessment.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) and end-of-module assessment (EMA).

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying T219 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Environmental management 1 (T219) starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2020.

We expect it to start for the last time in October 2021.

Course work includes:

2 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

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