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ENVI111 Environment and Society

Semester One, 18 points

Lectures: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday: 5pm – 5.50pm

Course Coordinator: Professor Etienne Nel –  
Teaching Fellow: Ben Varkalis –

Note: ENVI111 is taught by a selection of academic staff from across the University. This group of academic staff changes year to year depending on availability. Lecturers will be confirmed in the course outline

Around the world, global environmental change is now a major concern of politicians and scientists, communities and individuals, public, private, and non-governmental organizations. News broadcasts constantly remind us of the symptoms of change, in the form of floods, droughts, famines, catastrophic landslides, conflicts and so forth. Can we be sure that the environment is changing? If it is changing, why? Are the changes the result of human actions? What is the evidence? Can/should these changes be managed?

The first part of the paper considers these questions, examining the problems of recognizing change in environmental systems, then considering the drivers of change in society and the implications for the global environment of different forms of human activity. Following this, the main part of ENVI111 is given over to a series of weekly themes: energy, water, food, climate change, hazards etc. These will usually mix lectures, class activities, and videos, over the four sessions from Monday to Thursday, with a different staff member taking each theme.

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Fundamentals of the Earth’s environmental systems; human impact on natural systems at global, national and regional scales. Environmental hazards, concerns and issues; ethical, legislative, economic, and political responses and constraints.

Environment and Society is designed to provide students from all disciplines and backgrounds with an awareness of current environmental concerns at the global, national and local levels. Particular emphasis is placed on understanding the relationship between people, their activities, and the biophysical environment, and on developing an informed understanding of the socio-cultural context of environmental problems. Acknowledging the range of values different people have for environmental systems and natural resources is critical to constructing meaningful responses to environmental challenges. Environment and Society requires students to critically think about environmental issues, ask questions about the evidence for such issues and make decisions based on the evidence put forward to support claims about the environment.

Paper title Environment and Society
Paper code ENVI111
Subject Environment and Society
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,092.15
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $5,004.75

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Schedule C
Arts and Music, Science
Teaching staff

Course Co-ordinator: Professor Etienne Nel

This paper is taught by a selection of academic staff from across the campus. This group of academic staff changes from year to year depending on availability. Academic staff to be confirmed in the course outline.

Teaching Fellow: Ben Varkalis

Paper Structure

This paper consists of lectures and covers aspects of environmental change.

Assessment is 50% internal (on-going during the semester) and 50% external (final examination).

Teaching Arrangements

4 lectures per week


Recommended text:

  • Middleton, N. (6th ed) (2018). Global Casino: An Introduction to Environmental Issues. Routledge, London. 672p (two copies will be placed on close reserve in the Science Library)
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Communication, Critical thinking, Environmental literacy, Research, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this paper should have

  • A greater awareness of the nature of environmental problems facing global, national and regional communities at the present
  • An understanding of some of the "drivers" of environmental change
  • An understanding of the range of values different people have for environmental systems and natural resources
  • An awareness of some of the institutional responses seen in New Zealand, and other countries, to cope with environmental concerns

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Monday 17:00-17:50 9-13, 15-16, 18-22
Tuesday 17:00-17:50 9-13, 15-22
Wednesday 17:00-17:50 9-13, 15-22
Thursday 17:00-17:50 9-13, 15-22