Semester Offering: InterSem

The course aims to introduce an interdisciplinary perspective of adaptive governance in the light of social-ecological and environmental change and transformation. It introduces theoretical understanding and insight of complex social-ecological systems and the concepts of adaptive governance in socio-ecological systems in theory and practices. It will also examine practical case studies on how resilience and adaptive capacity building can be examined from the local perspective to the national and regional perspective. Special emphasis will be given to the evaluation and identification of learning processes and changes.


Through the course, learners will be able to:
      understand what socio-ecological system is and how social-ecological systems represent real world situations where people and the environment interact;
      understand socio-ecological system from sociological and ecological perspectives;
      examine theories and conceptual frameworks used to understand the complexity and dynamics of socio-ecological systems;
      understand the concept of adaptive governance of socio-ecological systems in theory and practices;
      promote in socio-ecological systems through encouraging (i) learning to live with change and uncertainty; (ii) nurturing diversity for resilience; (iii) combining different types of knowledge for learning; and (iv) creating opportunity for self-organization.




I.     Social-ecological Systems (SES): Concepts andTheories
1.    Introduction to SES - definitions
2.    Interaction of Nature and Society in Sociology
3.    Interaction of Nature and Society in Ecology
4.    Changes in the socio-ecological system and challenges for sustainable planning (with a particular focus on uncertainties and limitations)
II.    Social-ecological Systems Approach
1.    Systemic worldview
2.    Transdisciplinary approaches
3.    System monitoring
4.    Adaptive Governance
III.   Adaptive Governance of Socio-ecological Systems
1.    Origin, concepts and terminology of Adaptive Governance
2.    The Learning Dimension of Adaptive Governance
3.    Adaptive Governance and Institutional Process
4.    Adapting and Transforming
IV.   Analysis of Case Studies:
1.    Case study 1. The Role of Fisheries Co-management in Building Resilient Social­ Ecological Systems.
2.    Case study 2: Participatory Action Research and Environmental Learning: Adaptive Management of Nitrate pollution from Agricultural origins.




No designated textbook, but class notes and handouts will be provided.


1.    Bruckmeier, K. (2016). Social-Ecological Transformation. Reconnecting Society and Nature. Springer Nature. London.
2.    Sakai, S. and Umetsu, C. (2014). Social-Ecological Systems in Transition. Springer Japan.
3.    Krasny, M. E., Plummer. R. et Lundholm, C. (2013). Resilience in Social-Ecological Systems. The Role of Learning and Education. Routledge London.
4.    Boyd, E. and Falke C. (2011). Adapting Institutions: Governance, Complexity and Social-Ecological Resilience, Cambridge University Press.
5.    Allen, C. R. and Garmestani A. S. (2015). Adaptive Management of Social-Ecological Systems, Springer Netherlands.


1.     Ecology and Society, Open Journal
2.     Journal of Ecology and Environment, Springer
3.     Regional Environmental Change, Springer
4.     Global Environmental Change, Elsevier
5.     Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences of USA


Lecture: 15 hours
Self and group-study: 30 hours


1.     Lectures and class discussion: Students will receive the lecture notes and the weekly lecture schedule at the beginning of the course, and requested them to read the lecture notes before coming to the class.
2.     Reading assignments in journals, monographs, books etc.


Group presentation: 10%, Mid-term exam: 30%. Final examination: 60%.
"A" would be awarded if a student demonstrates excellent understanding and critical thinking on concept. "B'' would be awarded if a student shows an overall understanding of topic covered in class. "C" would be awarded if a student meets below average expectation on both understanding and application. "D" would be awarded if a student does not meet basic expectation in analyzing or understanding issues covered in the course.