SPOL41120 Sustainable Futures and Public Policy

Academic Year 2023/2024

Embark on a transformative journey in the master' s-level module on "Sustainable Futures and Public Policy." This module will broaden your understanding of diverse social science perspectives shaping socio-environmental relations. From comprehending the social drivers of environmental impacts to delving into the complexities of climate change politicisation and denial, you will navigate the intricate web of challenges that sustainable public policy seeks to address.

This module will challenge you to critically consider varying perspectives on economic reform, from green-growth to post-growth ideologies, ensuring a comprehensive grasp of how to align economies with planetary limits. The heart of your intellectual journey lies in the ability to evaluate and assess the practicality and potential of policy solutions to foster a sustainable and just society.

Moreover, you will explore the redesign of fundamental institutions such as work, welfare, and education, understanding how these pillars can be reshaped to promote sustainable human well-being. Engage in ongoing debates illuminating the delicate balance between decarbonising societies and addressing social equity concerns, gaining familiarity with the nuanced discussions shaping the contemporary policy landscape.

The assessment strategy offers you a multifaceted and enriching learning experience. You will hone your communication skills through presentations and active participation in class discussions, vital for effective knowledge dissemination and future leadership roles. For your final written project, you will have the opportunity to connect with Dublin-based non-profits and use your final report as an opportunity to write about a topic they are working on.

This module is not just an academic endeavour; it's a call to action. By the end, you will emerge with a robust understanding of sustainable public policy and the critical thinking skills to navigate the complexities of our global challenges and contribute meaningfully to creating a more equitable and sustainable future.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

Learning Outcomes

Understand a wide range of social science perspectives on human/environment relations.
Comprehend the social drivers of environmental impacts.
Understand the barriers to implementing such policies, including climate change politicisation and denial.
Consider differing perspectives on reforming the economy to align with planetary limits, including de-growth and post-growth perspectives.
Critically evaluate and assess the practicality and potential of various policy solutions to promote a sustainable and just society.
Understand how work, welfare and education institutions can be redesigned to promote sustainable human well-being.
Be familiar with ongoing debates on balancing efforts to decarbonise our societies with social equity concerns.

In addition, students will also have the opportunity to:
Sharpen critical thinking skills
Present and craft logical, convincing arguments
Develop reading, writing, and listening skills
Become more engaged and aware of "environmental citizens."

Indicative Module Content:

Week 1: Course overview and introduction
Week 2: Global environmental crises and the climate change mitigation challenge
Week 3& 4: Reforming the economy: capitalism, green growth and de-growth alternatives
Week 5: Rethinking consumption and the sharing economy
Week 6: Democratic governance and civic participation
Week 7: Social movements, counter-movements and climate change denial
Week 8: Reforming the education system
Week 9: The future of work
Week 10: Reforming the welfare state
Week 11: Reimagining food systems
Week 12: Wrap up

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
- Lectures with research-informed teaching
- Participative learning in class
- Active Learning through class discussion
- Task-based, enquiry & problem-based learning through group work
- Student presentations.
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Presentation: Present on Readings and lead class discussion (40%). Once in the semester, you and a classmate will review the discussion articles for a particular topic/week and present your findings to the class Throughout the Trimester n/a Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No


Essay: 2000 Word Individual Essay/ Report (40%).
Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Journal: Week 12 submit a participation log detailing five examples (300 words each) of your contributions to the in-class discussion. Week 12 n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Summer No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Self-assessment activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.