Universität Wien FIND

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Further information about on-site teaching can be found at https://studieren.univie.ac.at/en/info.

290016 SE Bachelorseminar Human Geography (2020W)

Habitability. Linking population distribution and environmental change

4.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 29 - Geographie
Continuous assessment of course work

In Englisch
Th 03.12. 09:00-11:45 Digital



max. 25 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Due to the current developments regarding the Covid19 pandemic, the course will be taught online on the given dates from 9am to 11:45am. You will have online access to the sessions via the moodle page of the course. You will be able to log in up to 15 minutes before the class. A reminder email will be sent to you before the first lesson.
No show in the first online session will result in the deregistration from the course.

Thursday 05.11. 09:00 - 11:45 Digital
Thursday 12.11. 09:00 - 11:45 Digital
Thursday 19.11. 09:00 - 11:45 Digital
Thursday 10.12. 09:00 - 11:45 Digital
Thursday 17.12. 09:00 - 11:45 Digital
Thursday 14.01. 09:00 - 11:45 Digital
Thursday 21.01. 09:00 - 11:45 Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course

Assessments of the impacts of climate change are often rooted in a deterministic and modern Malthusian perspective, which often overlooks social determinants of changes at different levels. It is often assumed that social transformations, such as migration or conflicts, are unavoidable by-products of climate change. It is therefore frequently hypothesized that reaching certain climatic thresholds would lead to mass migration or widespread conflict and insecurity.
During the course, we will argue that the habitability of a given place is hardly objective and cannot be determined by analyses of climate parameters alone. Research on the climate-population nexus should take a systems-based approach, analyzing the effects of climate impacts on the system as a whole, including social, political, economic, environmental and demographic factors. Responses to environmental disruptions, including population movements, are strongly dependent upon individual and collective perceptions of changes and risks and other mitigating factors of these changes, such as the resilience of the socio-ecological system and the adaptive strategies and capacity of populations in situ.

This course will combine didactic lectures and hands-on sessions. The working methods used in the seminar will be fitting e-learning activities. International examples - mainly in the Global South - will be used. The nexus between population dynamics and climatic change will mainly be examined through the lens of migration studies.
At the end of the course, the students should be able to critically discuss the impacts of climate change on population distribution/dynamics and be familiar with the current state of knowledge of the field of climate change adaptation and environmental migration.

Assessment and permitted materials

The working methods used in the seminar will include joint analyses and discussions of relevant academic materials, own research of scientific sources, presentation of research results, and the writing of a term paper. Cooperative methods of working will be used whenever adequate and possible.
The following requirements must be fulfilled in order to pass the course:
• active participation on moodle and regular submission of the portfolio
• Presentation + Q&A session (online when/if needed)
• writing of a short term paper

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Attendance in at least 80% of the course sessions. In the case of illnesses that are confirmed by a doctor's note, additional absenteeism can be compensated by additional written assignments.

The presentation (35%) and term paper (45%) will be marked individually as well as portfolios & active participation on moodle (20%). Assignments have to be passed individually. An assignment is passed with a minimum grade of 4.
Grading scheme:
100 - 87,5 % - grade 1
87,5 - 75 % - grade 2
75 - 62,5 % - grade 3
62,5 - 50 % - grade 4
less than 50% - grade 5
An additional grading scheme for presentation and term papers can be downloaded from the Moodle platform and will be explained in the course.
A great motivation to research, read, present and discuss (in English) the most relevant issues dealing with population dynamics and climate change is sought.

Examination topics

The examination will encompass the work items as outlined in the course requirements.

Reading list

All texts for compulsory readings can be downloaded in the Moodle course. Additional literature research will be mandatory. For selected literature, see below:
Borderon, M., Sakdapolrak, P., Muttarak, R., Kebede, E., Pagogna, R., & Sporer, E. (2019). Migration influenced by environmental change in Africa: A systematic review of empirical evidence. Demographic Research, 41(18), 491-544. https://dx.doi.org/10.4054/DemRes.2019.41.18.
Foresight Migration and Global Environmental Change Future Challenges and Opportunities (2011). Final Report. The Government Office for Science. London. Available online: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/287717/11-1116migration-and-global-environmental-change.pdf.
Fritzsche, K., Schneiderbauer, S., Bubeck, P., Kienberger, S., Buth, M., Zebisch, M., & Kahlenborn, W. (2014). The Vulnerability Sourcebook: Concept and guidelines for standardised vulnerability assessments. Available online. https://www.adaptationcommunity.net/?wpfb_dl=203
IPCC (2014) Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, R.K. Pachauri and L.A. Meyer (eds.)]. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland.
IPCC (2018). Report - Global warming of 1.5°C. ISBN 978-92-9169-151-7. Available online : https://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_spm_final.pdf.
Jacobson J.L. (1988). Environmental Refugees: a Yardstick of Habitability. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, 8(3), 257–258. https://doi.org/10.1177/027046768800800304

Association in the course directory

(BA GG 7.1) (L2-b4, L2-b-zSE) (BA UF GW 16)

Last modified: Mo 05.10.2020 10:11