Course details
Course general details
Compex Dynamics in Human-Environment Systems
Course contents
Apr 15, 2013
Apr 19, 2013
Human activities affect the dynamics of the earth system and its ecosystems. These systems are essential to maintain the necessary conditions for providing ecosystem services and for human development. The human-environment system contains a number of complex feedback mechanisms and non-linear responses. Human societies have been able to adapt to different local environmental conditions in the past. However, the current scale of human-induced environmental change can jeopardize the necessary conditions for a continued sustainable human development in future.
The behaviour of these complex dynamical systems is difficult to predict. Yet it is likely that gradual change will not be the most common response. Recent research suggests that there are critical thresholds or tipping points in human-environment systems beyond which a sudden ‘regime shift’ to a contrasting state may occur. This specific complexity requires in-depth research on the governance processes involved with mitigation and adaptation strategies to cope with climate and global change. Besides this, the impacts of the changes on natural and social systems, which are already observed and likely to increase substantially in the near future, have to be assessed and linked to development and equity issues in order to reduce the vulnerability of the poorest communities.

This SENSE course takes an integrative approach and starts from the insight that sustainable development is not just related to ecological, environmental, economic or social problems, but rather is an amalgamation of all four. Therefore it is important to get a better understanding of the complex dynamics, including non-linear responses and resilience, of coupled human-environment systems.

Specific attention will be paid to (1) systems, (2) integrated assessments and (3) governance.

The course will discuss the latest scientific findings on complex dynamics in natural and social systems, and emphasizes the importance of skills that are needed for making this knowledge available for policy making through integrated assessments. These skills will be trained in group work. During the course, students will be asked to present their research in a short poster presentation.
The learning objectives are
• to better understand complex dynamics in human-environment systems with a focus on systems, integrated assessment and governance
• to better understand what skills are needed to make knowledge available for policy making

One week 15 – 19 April 2013, at an external location, with renowned guest speakers and much interaction between students and experts in this field. 12 selected MSc students following the Master Class Complex Dynamics in Human-Environment Systems will also participate in this course.

Draft Program

Monday 15 April – SYSTEMS
Lectures on Complex Dynamic Systems
   - Prof Carolien Kroeze – Wageningen University
   - Prof Rik Leemans – Wageningen University
   - Prof Stefan Dekker – Utrecht University
   - Dr Niklas Höhne - Ecofys
Group Discussions
Poster Presentations by Course Participants

Lectures on Integrated Assessment
  - Prof Aad Smaal - Deltaris
  - Prof Pim Martens – ICIS
Group Discussions
Poster Presentations by Course Participants

Wednesday 17 April - EXCURSION
To be announced

Thursday 18 April - GOVERNANCE
Lectures on Integrated Assessment
  - Dr Philipp Pattberg - VU
  - Dr Willemijn Tuinstra – OU / PBL
  - Dr Detlef van Vuuren - PBL
Group Discussions
Poster Presentations by Course Participants

Friday 19 April – GROUP WORK
Presentations by course participants

Lectures, group work, excursion, poster presentations
Course conditions
Feb 28, 2013
300 Euro for SENSE, PE&RC & WASS PhDs; 450 Euro for all others. Lodging and catering included.
Stayokay Apeldoorn
Asselsestraat 330 7312 TS Apeldoorn
tel: (0)55 355 31 18

Prof. Carolien Kroeze (WUR and OU), Serge Stalpers (SENSE), Aritta Suwarno (WUR)


- Prof. Carolien Kroeze (Course coordinator) (ESA – Wageningen University)
- Drs. Serge Stalpers (WIMEK – Wageningen University)
- Prof. Pim Martens (ICIS - Maastricht University)
- Prof. Marten Scheffer (AEW - Wageningen University)
- Dr. Philipp Pattberg (IVM-VU Amsterdam)
- Prof Stefan Dekker / Prof Jeroen van der Sluijs (Utrecht University)


Poster announcement (pdf), updated 14-02-2013

Please contact Simona Pedde for more information.

COURSE IS FULLY BOOKED! You can still register for the waiting list.

Apr 4, 2013
Registration Closed