Sustainable Use of Ecosystems

Faculteit Science and Engineering
Jaar 2019/20
Vakcode WMEE16000
Vaknaam Sustainable Use of Ecosystems
Niveau(s) master
Voertaal Engels
Periode semester I a

Uitgebreide vaknaam Sustainable Use of Ecosystems
Leerdoelen At the end of the course, the student is able to:
1. Explain how marine, aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems that produce food on Planet Earth evolved and function, and the role of diversity of life forms.
2. Describe the impacts of major environmental issues on natural ecosystems : e.g. eutrophication, acidification, deforestation, desertification and climate change;
3. Assess the impact of changes in agricultural production techniques on soil quality
4. Discuss the impacts of climate change on agricultural production and mention options to reduce the impacts
5. Analyse the impacts of food production in agricultural systems on natural ecosystems
6. Describe the functioning and productivity of natural and cultural ecosystems and the harvesting methods applied in these systems
7. Compare changes in future food, materials and energy needs, for individual countries
8. Argue whether biomass needs in a country can be fulfilled with the existing national ecosystems and, if this is not possible, what measures should be taken to meet the demands. Next, discuss the environmental impacts of these measures
9. Work in an interdisciplinary/international group.
10. Acquire academic skills, like the finding of relevant information, the use of relevant information and presentation skills
Omschrijving The use of biomass plays an important role in the transition to a more sustainable society. Biomass is generally considered as a renewable energy source, but also as a renewable source for materials (bio based economy). Moreover, it is the main source for our food. Biomass is produced in ecosystems; these can be natural but also cultural (agriculture). When biomass is used for food, materials or energy, it is essential for the present as well as for the future that the production takes place in a sustainable manner. This course focusses on the sustainable use of ecosystems and uses biomass for food as a case study. It determines how much biomass can be produced from natural and cultural ecosystems and what the environmental impacts of these production methods are. It compares this to the needs. The course starts with an introduction to the food production system. How much food do we need in the coming decades on a global scale and what production systems are available to produce this? And what are the environmental impacts of these systems?

The course includes group assignments with intensive feedback and lectures. The group composition is based on different scientific and cultural backgrounds. In the first weeks, students have to develop a sustainable food production system for a country using terrestrial ecosystems and present their results. Based on the problems they encounter and the missing knowledge discovered in their presentations, the lecturers give a series of lectures and additional literature. The second group assignment includes the use of marine resources and the use of biomass for materials and energy. Again, after the group presentations, the lecturers provide additional information and literature on observed missing system knowledge and insights to help students to prepare for the written exam.
Uren per week
Onderwijsvorm Hoorcollege (LC), Opdracht (ASM)
(Lectures (20 h), Assignment (group work and feedback, 50 h), self study (70 h). Digital exam.)
Toetsvorm Opdracht (AST), Schriftelijk tentamen (WE)
(Other lecturers: prof. dr. K.R. Timmermans, prof. dr. R. Bintanja, prof. dr. A. Grootjans, dr. E. Elferink, dr. A. Werkman, Ms. J. Bulthuis and several IVEM PhD candidates)
Vaksoort master
Coördinator dr. P.W. Leenes
Docent(en) prof. dr. A.G.J. Buma ,dr. P.W. Leenes ,dr. ir. S. Nonhebel ,dr. E.J. Stamhuis
Verplichte literatuur
Titel Auteur ISBN Prijs
Literature will be provided on Nestor
Entreevoorwaarden Priority for students from the Master EES (Energy and Environmental Sciences). Max. 45 students.
Followed by: Approx. 40-45 1st-year students from the degree programme Energy & Environmental Sciences Master are participating in the course unit. The course unit is mandatory for the Energy & Environmental Sciences Master.
Prior knowledge: The course is, together with IEMS and DASM, one of the first courses in the Master of Energy and Environmental Sciences (EES). A bachelor in one of the natural sciences is required to enter the MSc EES.
Opmerkingen Modes of assessment: 1. Written exam with open questions. Questions are analysis / synthesis level (70%) 2. Group Assigment with presentation (30%)
Pass mark: The written exam includes 5 to 6 questions. The questions have several sub questions, ranging from a knowledge level to an evaluation level. The written exam contributes 70% and the group assignment 30% to the final grade of the course. The grade of the group assignment and the written exam should be a 6 (> 5,5) at least. Active participation in the group assignments is obligatory.
Presence during (parts of) the course is mandatory: Yes.
Active participation in the group assignments is essential and therefore obligatory. Participation is assessed by the staff and peer review of the students themselves. In any case that the participation of a student is considered insufficient, the maximum score for the course is 5.
Opgenomen in
Opleiding Jaar Periode Type
MSc Biology: Research  (Electives/Optional modules) - semester I a keuze
MSc Biology: Science, Business and Policy  (Electives/Optional modules) - semester I a keuze
MSc Biomolecular Sciences  (Electives/Optional modules) - semester I a keuze
MSc Courses for Exchange Students: Energy & Environment 19-20 - semester I a Energy & Environmental Sciences
MSc Ecology and Evolution: Ecology and Conservation  (Electives/optional modules) - semester I a keuze
MSc Ecology and Evolution: Evolutionary Biology  (Electives/optional modules) - semester I a keuze
MSc Energy and Environmental Sciences  ( Obligatory Courses) 1 semester I a verplicht
MSc Marine Biology: Research  (Electives/Optional modules) - semester I a keuze