Global sustainability

The Global Sustainability study track (45 ECTS) comprises of disciplinary major and minor modules. Major modules are 15-30 ECTS and minor modules 15 ECTS.

You can choose two or three different modules to complete the required 45 ECTS credits for your advanced studies. Some modules also offer the possibility to expand the module with elective studies to 30 ECTS credits for more in-depth competence within the module.

At least 30 ECTS have to be chosen from major modules, but all 45 ECTS can be covered within major modules as well. If wanted, 15 ECTS can be chosen from minor modules.

Major modules

There are four major modules in the Global Sustainability study track:

  • ECGS-080 Environmental policy and economics, 15 or 30 cr
  • ECGS-200 Consumer citizens and sustainability transition, 15 or 30 cr
  • ECGS-400 Forests, global changes and sustainability , 15 or 30 cr
  • ECGS-930 Urban studies, 30 cr
Environmental policy and economics

The Environmental Policy and Economics module provides students with skills to analyze the economic, policy, governance aspects of human environmental interactions, and to propose economically viable transition policies toward sustainability. In particular, the students learn to incorporate complex institutional, economic, socio-political, cognitive, ecological and technological factors in their interdisciplinary expert assessments and recommendations.

In the Environmental Policy and Economics module students take part in innovative learning environments – such as group work, case studies, problem sets, simulations, discussions, lectures and text production. This degree prepares students for the challenging, real-life interactions that characterize contemporary environmental governance in the public, private and non-profit sectors. 

Consumer citizens and sustainability transitions

Having completed the Consumer citizens and sustainability transitions module, students have the basic knowledge and skills enabling them to work as an expert in sustainable consumption in the public or private sector. They understand the research paradigms and main empirical research findings concerning sustainable consumption well enough to evaluate competing theoretical perspectives, critique research findings and critically assess policy proposals.

After completing the Consumer citizens and sustainability transitions module, students are able to structure and analyse policy, design and communications problems in sustainable consumption and to collect sensible primary and secondary data to inform solutions to these problems. They also have a conceptual and experiential understanding of different ways in which such problems can be framed. Additionally, students improve their practical research design, methods, data collection, writing and communication skills. 

Forests, global changes and sustainability

Students will gain a holistic understanding of the crucial role of forests and forest-related people in realizing sustainability across multiple levels of governance, often in response to global drivers of change, such as climate change. They will gain an understanding of the fundamental elements of the ecological, economic, and societal dimensions of forests and their linkages.

You can find detailed information about the Forests, global changes and sustainability module in Sisu.

Urban studies

The aim is to introduce students to the basics of urban ecology and to help them become aware of the impacts of urbanisation on nature, the world and human beings. Both theoretical and practical courses will prepare the student to meet urbanization challenges, such as ecosystem degradation, policy issues, and management and planning. After completion, the student will be able to identify urban environmental/social problems, and have the toolkit to meet these challenges and solve the problems with other interested parties.

Urban studies can be picked as a major or a minor module. The basic (minor) 15 cr module focuses on urban ecosystem ecology, urban biodiversity and urban environmental policy, and the advanced (major) 30 cr module, in addition of the above-mentioned topics, includes skills such as nature-based solutions, fieldwork experience and a choice of subjects including ecotoxicology, urban climate and integrated methods in environmental social sciences.

Minor modules

There are nine minor modules in the Global Sustainability study track:

  • ECGS-500 Sustainable management of marine environments, 15 cr
  • ECGS-100 Environment and development, 15 cr
  • ECGS-700 Food and sustainability, 15 cr
  • ECGS-800 Global land use, 15 cr
  • ECGS-915 Urban studies, basic, 15 cr
  • IND-500 Indigenous Studies, 15 cr
  • ATM391 Climate University MOOC, 15 cr
  • VIIKB-201 International Master level studies, 15 cr
  • SOSM-503 Science and Technology Studies, 15 cr
Sustainable management of marine environments

This module offers an overall framework for understanding, analyzing and solving regional environmental problems, using the Baltic Sea as a case study. The students will gain understanding about the causal interactions between the human and natural system:

  • multiple anthropogenic and natural drivers and pressures that affect the marine ecosystem
  • contribution of marine ecosystem services to human welfare
  • role of mitigation and adaptation measures, national and international policies and marine governance

The students will learn central concepts and tools from relevant disciplines (natural sciences, environmental economics, and social sciences) needed in the analysis of sustainable marine management and governance. The student will learn to work as a group to access collective intelligence and multidisciplinary balanced view to marine management.

Environment and Development

The Environment and development study module focuses on long-term pathways and actual debates related to development and environment in the global South. After completing this module, the student is familiar with classic thinkers and theories and current debates relevant in Development Studies.

In the Environment and development study module, students gain good knowledge of the main principles and relevant approaches concerning the political ecology and multi-scale resource governance in the global South. The study module also provides students the ability to apply the acquired knowledge in empirical research and policy-oriented work. 

Food and sustainability

Having completed the study module each student will

  • have a sound understanding of the structure and functioning of the food system from the perspective of sustainability.
  • be able to find and interpret research reports in which ecological efficiency, environmental impacts, or use of natural resources have been studied over the whole production and consumption cycle.
  • be able to produce a list or an illustration of key issues in all three dimensions – ecological, economic, and social - of sustainability in these systems.
  • be able to use conceptual frameworks such as sustainable food consumption, sustainable diet or sustainable livelihoods, to address the complexity of the challenge of sustainability in food systems

In addition to these competences and skills, each student will have had the opportunity to deepen her/his understanding of food as an issue of sustainability through the choices of elective courses.

Global land use

With this module students may acquaint themselves with

  • Key concepts and current trends in global land use across a range of geographies, governance, and land types in the context of sustainable development and global change processes.
  • Main ecological, economic, and societal drivers of land use change in the context of sustainability.
  • Ecological basis of climate change mitigation and adaptation measures of tropical forests.
  • Basic theory and skills necessary to start working with remote sensing data to analyse land use change.
  • Main research gaps, the current hot topics, and future directions in global land use.
Indigenous studies

Indigenous studies provides an opportunity to foster knowledge of Indigenous societies in local and global approaches. It offers transformative and decolonial methodological and analytical tools to approach different Indigenous social worlds, power relations, and reconciliation. The program introduces students to Indigenous knowledge-production as a relational and interactive process. Engaging with diverse local and land-based learning methods, students became familiar with historical and contemporary perspectives and themes within Indigenous studies.   

This minor uniquely covers the following thematic, methodological, and theoretical competences: Indigenous education and languages; Indigenous research methodologies and ethics; biocultural diversity, Indigenous arts, and Indigenous rights and history.  

The indigenous studies module can benefit students planning careers in policy-making, environmental and sustainability sectors, education, law, economy, social work, health care, museums, and various areas of culture. 

Climate University MOOC

After completing the thematic module of Climate University MOOC, students will master basics of physical, ecological and social phenomena of climate change. Depending on the amount and selection of optional courses, the student will also be able to:

  • describe in depth the origin of climate change in the atmosphere,
  • explain the effects of climate change on the structure and functioning of ecosystems in different climatic areas,
  • plan and carry out climate change related field research, and
  • participate in the discussion on the social importance of climate change and the means of mitigating the change.
International Master level studies

International studies upon agreement with the PSP teacher

Science and technology studies

The study module of Science and technology studies introduces students to key questions in science and technology research, as well as to research conducted on the topic at the University of Helsinki.

After completing the module, the student understands how the interaction between science and society can be studied using different social science methods. In a similar way, the student understands how technology, technological development and interaction between technology and society can be explored using social science methods. Through their studies students get familiar with the key issues and theoretical approaches of some of the special fields of science and technology research. You can see course details for the Science and technology module from Sisu.