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Semester 2: Cardiff University (UK)

For students following specialization: European spatial planning: sustainable development in policy and practice

The aim of the second semester in Cardiff University is to allow students to take the knowledge of spatial planning and environmental politics that they have acquired during the first semester in Nijmegen and apply it to a range of contemporary environmental policy issues. The modules are designed to deepen students’ understanding of environmental policy in particular sectors, each with relevance to wider EU agendas, and encourage a critical appreciation of the scope for policy makers to improve levels of sustainability. It also introduces students to the key principles underpinning environmental policy and planning, as well as developing theoretical and practical applications. Also integral to this semester is a module on research methods, designed to begin students’ preparation for the Masters thesis.

Students need to pass modules equivalent to 30 ECS. This is achieved by taking the compulsory (core) modules on Research Sustainability and Planning for Sustainability, and choosing one option module from the list below.


Urban and Regional Development in Practice (20 ECs)

Regions and cities the world over currently face immense pressures to change land uses and adapt to wide-ranging economic, environmental and social pressures. Pressures of competition and globalisation have led to the decay and decline of traditional production-based industries and seen the growth of new, more high-tech service sectors and cultural businesses. Many places are thus being forced to re-invent themselves and rise to the multiple challenges of finding new ways of using the urban and industrial landscape, finding new forms of work and sources of income for local people, and developing new place identities and images to attract business investment, visitors and talented, creative people. As a result, regeneration strategies which once focused upon reconfiguring the physical fabric of run-down areas are having to become much broader and wider and to encompass the economic, social and cultural transformation of towns, cities and regions. Similarly, local economic development approaches are broadening with traditional strategies for business competitiveness and place marketing being applied alongside more novel approaches based around the development of social enterprises and initiatives encouraging more locally embedded, sustainable business activities. This raises a number of challenges for the design and delivery of urban regeneration policies and strategies. Understanding these challenges and different ways and means by which they may be addressed is thus the principal focus of this module.



Planning for Sustainability (10 ECs)

How can we use the planning system to promote sustainable development? That is the question this module seeks to answer. Students will be introduced to the whole area of land use planning and spatial planning. From this platform, students will then examine how far we can expect planning to help guide society towards more sustainable futures. Attention will be given to different models of planning: those which emphasise delivery against sustainability targets; those which emphasise collaboration; and those which emphasis learning.  The main focus is on the planning system in the UK, with examples focusing on renewable energy development and nature conservation, but the module also draws on relevant international experience. A vital thread that runs through the module is the relationship between knowledge and decision-making. The second half of the module picks up this thread and introduces students to two key ‘tools’ for promoting sustainability by the application of knowledge to decision-making procedures: Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). Students will learn about the procedures set out in the relevant EU Directives, but also gain a critical understanding of the extent to which these tools help to encourage more sustainable forms of development.


Environmental Management (10 ECs)

This module will provide a critical examination of the key issues and ideas that currently characterise environmental management, such as the interaction between voluntary and public forms of regulation. It will place these ideas within the context of drivers for change on industry, technological changes and responses by the business community through initiatives to promote more integrated environmental management. The module engages with debates on: the potential and limitations for organisations to become more environmentally conscious in their activities; the interactions between the environmental or broader sustainability performance of organisations and their economic performance; and the constraints facing commercial, public and community organisations, regulators and environmental policy makers in their efforts to improve environmental and social sustainability.


Environmental Behaviours: Citizens, Consumers and Communities (10 ECs)

Across the globe, governments and environmental groups are calling on the public to change their behaviour in ways that will reduce pressure on the environment. But is it realistic or desirable to put so much pressure on individuals? How does individual behaviour relate to wider social, technological and political contexts? Through this module, students will critically appraise the scope for encouraging people to behave more sustainably. Students are introduced to a range of theoretical perspectives that help to understand this issue - including environmental ethics, rational choice theory, and ideas of identity and citizenship – and invited to explore them in the context of pressing environmental debates: about personal travel and aviation; waste and consumption; and domestic energy use. Students will utilise a range of tools for gathering information on personal environmental behaviour, including focus groups and carbon footprint calculating devices. The learning experience is supported by methodological training in the use of reflective field diaries, for which students will be able to make submissions in video as well as in written text. A Field Study Visit to a high-sustainability project will also form part of this module.  In 2013 this was the Lammas Eco-Village.


Sustainable Food Systems (10 ECs)

In the context of wider debates about the viability of European Union farming support systems, this module explores the role of food in delivering the economic, environmental and social objectives of sustainable development. Through the prism of local foodscapes – food systems which set a premium on local, seasonal and sustainable attributes in the production, distribution and consumption of food, the module helps students to appreciate why local and locality features are assuming more importance in the theory and practice of sustainable development. Drawing on the perspectives of different actors in the food chain –producers, retailers, consumers, regulators and campaigners, the module explores the scope for (and the limits to) the growth of local foodscapes that promote sustainable development outcomes in Europe, North America and developing countries alike. EU procurement policy is one dimension.