Course code:



A - Advanced

Class size limit:


Meets the following requirements:

  • HS - Human Studies

Lab fee:


Typically offered:

Every other year

This seminar explores selected themes in ecological economics, which is both the economics of sustainability as well as a paradigmatic approach distinct from the mainstream neoclassical approach to the study of economic activity..

We will use the first several weeks of the term to define and outline ecological economics. We will use the remainder of the term to explore topics of student interest, focusing on three to five major themes; possible themes include:

  • methodological issues (post-normal science, transdisciplinarity),
  • biophysical constraints to economic growth (entropy, technological pessimism, capital substitution, critical natural capital, resource peaks),
  • sociocultural impacts of economic growth (consumption, happiness studies),
  • energy and resource flow analysis (entropy),
  • system dynamics (steady state economy, resiliency, degrowth),
  • measurement issues (growth versus development, ecological footprint, Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare),
  • institutional arrangements (adaptations of ideas from Douglass North),
  • trade and development (embodied trade, pollution havens),
  • community sustainability,
  • philosophical issues (Buddhist economics, homo economicus),
  • historical issues of sustainability (Malthusian perspectives, Jevon’s Paradox).

Evaluation will be via an exam at the end of the introductory phase, article précis, and a final poster presentation.


Two terms of economics or permission of instructor.

Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.