Environmental Challenges: Rights and Values in Ecosystem Services


Differences in values can create conflict. How can we learn to manage our natural resources with integrity?

Why join the course?

Humans are very innovative, but we’ve also created many ecological problems. We’ve changed the face of the planet, fished the oceans, and we’re causing climate change through emissions.

Designing institutional arrangements that recognise ecosystem services in the values we place upon natural systems will be an important way to help governing the planet, for both present and future generations.

This course explores three approaches to rights and values, and applies these to ecosystem services around the world. It also includes advice on producing press releases about environmental issues.

What topics will you cover?

  • Types of category errors that are frequently made in assignment of values.
  • The different types of values.
  • The conflicts that often arise from a collision of values.
  • The cost of exercising a right.
  • Examples of Coasian Bargaining, identifying the limitations of more complex cases.
  • The application of Ron Coase’s suggestions of market-based solutions to problems of social cost.
  • The limits to the scientific knowledge that can be used to underpin decisions.
  • The use of precaution when making decisions where there is a lack of scientific knowledge.
  • Defining how the application of precaution may prevent significant innovations from being made.
  • The reasons why the precautionary principle is not applied with consistency when making decisions.
  • The role of power and hegemony as an important factor when the precautionary principle is applied in decision making.
  • The importance of making precautionary decisions that have economic costs.
  • The application of the principles to environmental case studies: the impact of Chernobyl, genetically modified organisms, asbestos, and ecosystem services.
  • The power of a well-written news report to change people’s opinions and values: writing a press release.


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