701-0008-00L  Tackling Environmental Problems II

SemesterSpring Semester 2021
LecturersC. E. Pohl, R. Frischknecht, M. Mader, B. B. Pearce
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionGerman


AbstractEach year in the case study we analyse a different topic from the field of sustainable development and develop solutions to it.
ObjectiveStudents are able:
- to carry out research on a given topic and present the results in a structured report which (a) shows the state of knowledge and (b) the need for knowledge and action.
- to integrate knowledge of diverse perspectives in a qualitative systems model, to identify problems and to suggest possible solutions from a specific stakeholder's perspective.
- to name the different roles within a group, explain the role(s) they are suited for, self-organise in groups, identify problems of collaboration and constructively address the problems.
ContentIn the first semester the students compile what is known about the case topic, its principles and challenges. Each group of students makes an inquiry to a given part of the overall problem. The inquiry includes a thematic as well as stakeholder analysis. The results are written in a report and presented at an internal conference.

During synthesis week, which takes place during semester break, the results of the different part inquiries are integrated in a qualitative system model. The students identify specific problems and develop solutions.

In the second semester, students work independently and in exchange with stakeholders on previously identified problems. They develop a sustainability project with concrete measures that they could implement voluntarily in the third semester. The course concludes with the presentation of the student projects on the "Market of Measures".

Most of the time students work independently in groups. Tutors support the students in key steps. Introductions are given for:
- The overall topic of the case study (by external experts),
- Inquiry, scientific writing and managing references (by experts of ETH library),
- Role behaviour and collaboration in groups,
- Preparing reports, posters and presentations,
- Qualitative system modelling (SystemQ),
- Developing solutions (design thinking, Checklands' soft systems methodology, sustainability assessment).
Lecture notesTutors will compile the case study dossier on the basis of the student reports.
LiteratureMethodological documentation will be made available on Moodle during the case study together with the relevant background literature.