Environmental governance, Environmental science, Science and Technology Studies, Transition studies

This is a joint school with the European Environment Agency (EEA) – an EEAcademy event. It is co-organised with  Erda RTE and Bridging for Sustainability.


Course date

29 June - 3 July, 2020
14 March, 2020
Course Director(s): 

Sybille van den Hove

Bridging for Sustainability, Brussels, Belgium

Jock Martin

European Environmental Agency, Copenhagen, Denmark

Anton Shkaruba

Erda RTE, Rijswijk, the Netherlands/Estonian University of Life Sciences, Tartu, Estonia

David Stanners

European Environment Agency, Copenhagen, Denmark
Course Faculty: 

Constança Belchior

THNK, Lisbon, Portugal

Hans Bruyninckx

European Environment Agency, Copenhagen, Denmark

Steffen Foss Hansen

Department of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby

Kenisha Garnett

Center for Environment and Agricultural Informatics, Cranfield University at Shrivenham, United Kingdom

David Gee

Freelancer, former senior advisor EEA, London, United Kingdom

Philippe Grandjean

University of Southern Denmark, Odense

Owen McIntyre

School of Law, University College Cork, Ireland

Hans-Peter Nachtnebel

Institute of Water Management, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU), Hydrology and Hydraulic Engineering, Vienna, Austria

The school will centrally focus around cross-cutting issues and a subset of case studies from the 'Late Lessons from early warning reports', as well as some additional case studies: nuclear energy legacy in Belarus and Japan, hydropower projects across Europe and Asia, and deep-sea mining. Participants will have to complete course pre-reading (see section on background readings below).

The course will address:

Cross-cutting issues

  • The precautionary principle: origin, concepts, legal aspects, lessons learned, current stakes;
  • Social-ecological systems, transformative capacity and long-term transitions to sustainability;
  • Governance of science and innovation, risk assessment and risk management;
  • Precaution and sustainability transition: roles and responsibilities of societal actors.

Case studies

  • Nanotechnologies
  • Asbestos
  • Mercury and other chemical brain drainers
  • Endocrine disruptors and the future for PFASs
  • Seed dressing systemic insecticides and honeybees
  • Post-normal science aspects of post-nuclear disaster governance (case of post-Chernobyl)
  • Hydropower as a case for precaution

The course schedule will alternate between lectures, group work, discussions and individual work around theoretical issues and case studies. Five days, from Monday to Friday, the participants will have access to scheduled one hour tutoring sessions with at least three school faculty members available at each session for consultations. The total course load including tutoring is 48 hours.

As part of their application, participants will be asked to propose a specific research question in relation to the theme of the Course, which they intend to explore in more depth during the School. Upon confirmation of their participation, they will be asked to do some background reading on their question and write a short first essay explaining their "problématique". Addressing such an open question can be somewhat challenging for participants with non-academic background. This will be addressed through a differentiated approach to various target groups of participants (e.g. by expecting outputs of more academic nature from the participants with academic backgrounds), and by tailoring our pre-course work to the needs of specific target groups (e.g. advising practitioners on their problematiques based on their experience and their specific needs).

During the course, participants will be organised in 5 groups, each addressing one of the themes of the school. School conveners will ensure that groups are balanced. Participants will contribute to their group building on their competencies and specific background, initial reflections, and their learning during the school. They will also share with other groups and members of faculty throughout the week.

Groups will be working with faculty members each day for a 90 minutes session and for a whole morning on the last day. Additional group work can take place during the integration day. Groups will be asked to present their result to everyone on the last afternoon. As input to their group work, participants of each group will also be asked to prepare summaries of the sessions corresponding to their theme (including the plenary discussions). Progress with the group works will be discussed during the course as appropriate.

The in-school phase is structured around the five themes (see Tentative course schedule). Case studies will be presented and worked on during the whole Course. They will serve to illustrate the lectures and provide practical material for the group works and discussions. Beyond what will be discussed during the week, all case studies in the two 'Late Lessons' volumes are relevant and participants are encouraged to explore those case studies that are of most interest to them.

A lot of the learning will take place through discussions and group work. Participation in these discussions will require some prior knowledge of the issues raised in presentations. To secure this the course participants will get their background reading requirements two months before the course starts.

The further networking of course participants is supported by a designated Facebook group.