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    The origins and principles of impact assessment (IA); the international state of IA; recent changes in New Zealand; methodology and IA; problems with IA practice, their causes and possible remedies.

    Environmental Impact Assessment is one of the most widely used environmental management processes around the world, but its effectiveness is often limited by weak practice. Addressing these problems requires a paradigm shift towards more transformative impact assessment practises that embrace the principles of sustainability, interdisciplinarity, and scientific evidence-based decision-making to drive meaningful change towards a more resilient future.

    This paper will be of interest to students from all backgrounds who have an interest in managing the ecological and physical systems that make up our environment in more sustainable ways. It examines current impact assessment processes and their application in environmental decision-making, with a focus on shifting from traditional impact assessment practises towards more holistic, participatory, and forward-looking approaches. The paper emphasises the scientific principles and tools that underpin effective impact assessment practises, while also exploring the social, cultural and bio-physical dimensions of the environment.

    About this paper

    Paper title Impact Assessment and Sustainability
    Subject Geography
    EFTS 0.1667
    Points 20 points
    Teaching period Not offered in 2024 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $1,448.79
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

    The paper is available to students at or above 400-level across the campus. A background in some aspect of environmental science is preferable.

    Teaching staff

    Course coordinator:  Dr Teresa Konlechner

    Paper Structure

    Topics covered include practical experience with impact assessment processes, evaluating the significance of environmental impact, environmental monitoring and reporting, and the ecological, physical social and cultural aspects of transformative impact assessment. The paper also considers new approaches to holistic environmental management, such as the use of nature-based solutions.

    Assessment is 60% internal (on-going during the semester) and 40% final examination.

    Teaching Arrangements

    One 2-hour lecture per week (includes practical workshops and group work).


    Textbooks are not required for this paper.
    Readings are prescribed as required.

    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Interdisciplinary perspective, Communication, Critical thinking, Environmental literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes

    Students will achieve the following outcomes by the end of the paper:

    • The development of practical skills and confidence in undertaking impact assessment studies.
    • The ability to critically evaluate environmental impact assessment processes and their application to environmental decision making.  
    • An understanding of the use of scientific evidence in ecological, hazard, cultural and social impact assessment contexts.  
    • The development of enhanced skills in identifying information needs, locating appropriate information sources, and using them effectively.
    • The ability to work in a team, meeting personal and group responsibilities.


    Not offered in 2024

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system
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