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OEBU 2265A - Environment and resources : what challenges for innovation ?

Type d'enseignement : Elective

Semester : Autumn 2018-2019

Number of hours : 12

Language of tuition : English, French



Course Description

Environment degradation and natural resources depletion have been presented as limits to economic growth already since the early 1970ies, without radically changing the economic models of our societies. The importance of the climate change challenge has recently put new emphasis on environmental issues, and on concepts such as “Planetary boundaries”. This course intends to discuss the nature and the magnitude of the challenges posed by these environmental limits to current economic models. It will particularly question the relationship between resources scarcity and innovation, as well as key concepts to analyse the current situation in which private as well as public players have high ambitions to contribute to a transition towards sustainable development.


TREYER, Sébastien (Directeur des programmes, IDDRI)

Pedagogical format

The sessions will be organised around some major papers contributing to the debate on the link between environmental issues and economic models. Some of these sessions will be organised as practical cases in which students will be asked to look for solutions to a situation of unsustainability.

Course validation

The validation of the course will rely on active participation in all sessions (20%) and a group presentation in the final session (80%) : each group of students will be asked to present their recommendations to make the case for a radically more sustainable business model on a specific case study.


Before each session, students will be asked to read one or two papers on which the discussion will be based. A group presentation will be prepared for the last session.

Required reading

  • 1. Rockström, et al. (2009) A safe operatinf space for humanity, Nature 461, 472–475 (24 September 2009) doi:10.1038/461472a (
  • 2. Meadows, Donella H; Meadows, Dennis L; Randers, Jørgen; Behrens III, William W (1972). The Limits to Growth; A Report for the Club of Rome's Project on the Predicament of Mankind (PDF). New York: Universe Books. ISBN 0876631650.
  • 3. Edwards, Lucy E. (30 November 2015). "What is the Anthropocene?". Eos. 96. doi:10.1029/2015EO040297
  • 4. Lanoie, P., et al. (2011) Environmental Policy, Innovation and Performance: New Insights on the Porter Hypothesis. Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, Vol 20 (3) 803 – 842
  • 5. Geels, F, Schot, J. (2007) Typology of socio technical transition pathways, Research Policy 36, 399–417

Additional required reading

  • Planetary boundaries research (
  • Meadows, Donella H; Meadows, Dennis L; Randers, Jørgen; Behrens III, William W (February 1973). "A Response to Sussex". Futures . 5 (1): 135-152.(
  • van Vuuren, D. P.; Faber, A (2009). Growing within Limits – A Report to the Global Assembly (
  • Miller, R. G.; Sorrell, S. R. (2 December 2013). "The future of oil supply". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. 372 (2006) (
  • Cordell, Dana; Drangert, Jan-Olof; White, Stuart (2009). "The story of phosphorus: Global food security and food for fought". Global Environmental Change. 19 (2): 292–305. (
  • Freibauer et al. (2011) Sustainable food consumption and production in a resources constrained world, SCAR Foresight Expert Groupe n°3 Report, European Commission (