ENVMGT 742 : Social Dimensions of Global Environmental Change


2024 Semester One (1243) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

An examination of the social dimensions of global environmental change. This includes a review of the history of climate science, the interaction of science with other knowledges, and contemporary debates surrounding climate change as well as other forms of environmental change. It also examines the different ways in which people respond to environmental risks and changes, and the challenges associated with mitigation and adaptation policies.

Course Overview

The course explores the social, cultural, political, and economic dimensions of global environmental change, focusing specifically global climate change and its interlinkages with other environmental issues. The course begins with a review of the history of international climate change agreements, then moves onto explore contemporary debates and disagreements surrounding climate change, and delves into how people are seeking to address climate change through policies and on-the-ground actions. The first half of the course focuses on climate change mitigation (actions to reduce the drivers of climate change). The second half of the course concentrates on climate change adaptation (actions to reduce the negative impacts of climate change).  Particular attention is directed throughout the course to understanding how and why different groups of people, both in Aotearoa New Zealand and around the globe, perceive and respond to climate variability and environmental changes in different ways, with a focus on multiple forms of knowledge (including scientific, Indigenous and local Knowledges). The course highlight how particular power dynamics and structures, embedded in particular social, economic, cultural and political systems, make it easier or more difficult for different individuals, groups, communities and societies to take actions in response to climate change, and how efforts to reduce social-economic inequities and political marginalisation are essential to achieving climate justice.

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: People and Place
Capability 2: Sustainability
Capability 3: Knowledge and Practice
Capability 4: Critical Thinking
Capability 5: Solution Seeking
Capability 6: Communication
Capability 7: Collaboration
Capability 8: Ethics and Professionalism

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Identify some of the drivers of anthropogenic climate change and explain the implications of climate change on social-ecological systems. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of how and why people disagree about climate change, and ways to resolve these disagreements (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  3. Understand and critically evaluate the role worldviews, values, and norms play in people's perceptions of and responses to environmental risks and climate change (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  4. Critically analyse differential vulnerability, adaptive capacity, and resilience of selected systems to climate variability, and change. (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 4)
  5. Demonstrate ability to conduct independent research on international climate change mitigation and communicate the research through a presentation and written reflection (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7)
  6. Independently research, analyse, and communicate climate mitigation and adaptation policies and plans and develop communication skills through the completing weekly discussions, reviews of literature, presentation, and report (Capability 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7)
  7. Identify, explain and critically evaluate strategies to enhance the capacity of systems, communities, and institutions to mitigate and adapt environmental conditions. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7)
  8. Critically evaluate the climate justice implications of current efforts to address climate change (Capability 1, 2, 4, 5, 7 and 8)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Discussions 20% Individual Coursework
Presentation 20% Group & Individual Coursework
Assignments 20% Individual Coursework
Exam 40% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8


Tuākana Science is a multi-faceted programme for Māori and Pacific students providing topic specific tutorials, one-on-one sessions, test and exam preparation and more. Explore your options at

As part of the University-wide Tuākana community, The School of Environment Tuākana Programme aims to provide a welcoming learning environment for, and enhance the success of, all of our Māori and Pacific students. We are led by the principles of tautoko (support) and whanaungatanga (connection), and hope you find a home here at the School. Students who have identified as Māori and/or Pacific will receive an invitation to our online portal introducing the Programme, the resources we have available, and how you can get involved.
Māori and Pacific students are encouraged to contact Sonia Fonua (s.fonua@auckland.ac.nz)  for information about the Tuākana programme.

Key Topics

Drivers and impacts of climate change
  • Overview of key drivers of climate change
  • Impacts of climate change on human and non-human communities
Perceptions of climate change:
  • Public attitudes towards climate change, including climate scepticism 
  • Media representations of climate change
Climate change governance:
  • International climate change agreements and the role of non-state actors in negotiations 
  • Power dynamics, climate justice, and policy-making
Climate change mitigation:
  • Carbon markets and carbon taxes
  • Individuals' actions to mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions
Climate change adaptation:
  • Climate vulnerability and resilience
  • Adaptive capacity and Indigenous Knowledge (IK)
  • Adaptation and maladaptation
  • Climate justice and climate refugees

Special Requirements

Compulsory participation in weekly tutorials. Compulsory participation in Week 6 Climate Change Convention Exercise. Monday 15 April 11am-1pm. 

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15-point course; students are expected to spend 10 hours per week in each 15-point course they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect to spend: 24 hours of lectures/tutorials; 48 hours of reading and course content revision; 48 hours working on your assignments and/or studying for the exam.

Delivery Mode


Attendance is required at scheduled online activities, including tutorials, to receive credit for the discussion components of the course. The course will include live online events, including group discussions/tutorials/lectures, which will be recorded. Attendance on campus is not required for the exam.
Where possible, study material will be released progressively throughout the course. This course runs to the University semester timetable, and all the associated completion dates and deadlines will apply.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Talis reading lists and links to journal articles will be provided for each topic.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

In 2023, based on student feedback from the 2022 class, compulsory tutorials have been added to the course to allow students to engage in small-group active learning activities that translate the theoretical concepts into real-world scenarios

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed for potential plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website http://disability.auckland.ac.nz

The course is designed on the principles of inclusive learning design (ILD) and is designed to take into account the different learning needs of different people. This includes neurodiversity, disabilities, and ESL students. If you would like to discuss your inclusive learning needs with the lecturer, email her at meg.parsons@auckland.ac.nz 

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/academic-information/exams-and-final-results/during-exams/aegrotat-and-compassionate-consideration.html.

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/forms-policies-and-guidelines/student-policies-and-guidelines/student-charter.html.


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 31/10/2023 10:51 a.m.