MPhil Sustainability Science (Code - ESSC)

Sustainable development is defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.  Ghana's long term development vision has identified a number of strategic directions for achieving this, e.g., the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA II) (2014-2017) designed to lay the foundation for the structural transformation of the economy to achieve Vision 2020. To achieve this, decision makers require scientifically sound and innovative knowledge and solutions to sustainably address national challenges such as food security, sustainable energy, natural resource management, and health.

Sustainability Science is a field of study that promotes cross-disciplinary approaches for understanding how human-environment interactions and systems affect the challenges of sustainable development. It employs rigorous scientific methods based on theoretical foundations and practical strategies for achieving the goal of concurrent progress in socio-economic and ecological security.

Sustainability science is a multi-, inter- and trans-disciplinary research field that draws on related disciplines, including anthropology, biology, ecology, economics, environmental science, geography, history, law, political science, psychology, and sociology. As a distinct discipline, it has its own specific body of knowledge and framework with which to address sustainability issues, while retaining relationships with other disciplines. As a result, the key principles and concepts learnt can be applied in any professional career track. The trans-disciplinary approach of the programme prepares students professionally for a broad range of sustainability-focused careers in academia, industry, government, or the non-profit sector and is, therefore, open to students from various disciplines.

The MPhil programme will build students' competences in trans-disciplinary approaches, tools and methodologies for synthesizing new information in addressing development related challenges sustainably. At the end of the programme, the expertise of students will be developed to comprehend fundamental core concepts of sustainability science for development through environmental, social and economic disciplines; analyze multi-disciplinary information and data to provide informed decision-making through resource management; appreciate how practical applications are used to achieve the core concepts in different fields of study; and integrate various sources of knowledge to support the process of achieving these concepts.

MISSION AND OBJECTIVES

The mission of the Sustainability Science programme is to advance knowledge and sustainable action towards achieving national prosperity and environmental integrity.

The specific objectives are to enable students to:

  • appreciate the key concepts, principles and development of sustainability science as a scientific field of study in order to understand trans-disciplinary approaches for synthesizing new information
  • understand the guiding principles and complex issues necessary for promoting sustainable development and environmental policies, for making informed analyses in decision making processes
  • demonstrate the complexities and the dimensions of environmental change and explain the reciprocity of changes in social and ecological systems, for proposing strategic options for sustainably maintaining healthy ecosystems
  • employ integrated methodological frameworks and tools, including information technology, to outline appropriate research strategies from description of problem and analysis to strategy building
  • address sustainability challenges in the modern society from scientific and practical perspectives, including food security and agriculture, water resources, built and natural environments, societies, energy systems, and industries

 

YEAR 1

First Semester

Core Courses 

Course Code

Course Title

Credits

ESSC 601

Sustainability: Principles and Practice

3 credits

ESSC 603

Human-Environment Interactions

3 credits

IESS 605*

Research Methods

3 credits

ESSC 610

Seminar I

3 credits

* Cross-cutting course for all IESS programmes

 

Electives Courses

Course Code

Course Title

Credits

ESSC 607

Natural Ecosystems and Resource Use

3 credits

ESSC 609

Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture

3 credits

ESSC 611

Water Governance for Sustainability

3 credits

ESSC 613

Sustainable Societies

3 credits

ESSC 615

Process Modelling

3 credits

ESSC 617

Information Systems and Corporate Environmental Management

3 credits

  

SECOND SEMESTER

Core Courses 

Course Code

Course Title

Credits

ESSC 602

Development and Sustainability

3 credits

ESSC 604

Sustainability Methodology

3 credits

IESS 606*

Special Project

3 credits

* Cross-cutting course for all IESS programmes

 

Electives Courses

Course Code

Course Title

Credits

 

ESSC 608

Governance and Sustainability

3 credits

ESSC 612

Sustainability of Built Environments

3 credits

ESSC 614

Sustainable Energy Systems

3 credits

ESSC 616

Sustainability and Industrial Ecology

3 credits

ESSC 618

Material Flow Analysis and Management

3 credits

 

YEAR 2 

Course Code

Course Title

Credits

 

ESSC 600

Thesis

30 credits

ESSC 620

Seminar II

3 credits

 

COURSE DESCRIPTION

ESSC 601               Sustainability: Principles and Practice

This course describes the key concepts, principles, and development of sustainability as a scientific field of study that integrates theory, applied science and policy.  This will enable students to understand trans-disciplinary approaches for synthesizing new information and its relevance for global development.

 

ESSC 602               Development and Sustainability

This course provides students with a broad understanding of the guiding principles and complex issues that are necessary for promoting sustainable development and environmental policies, at the national and international levels. This understanding will develop their capacity for informed analyses in debates and decision-making processes.

 

ESSC 603               Human - Environment Interactions

This course examines the interactions between socio-economic and environmental systems. It highlights the driving forces of environmental change and how this change shapes, controls, and constrains human systems and exposes them to vulnerable conditions. The course is aimed at demonstrating the complexities and the dimensions of environmental change and explaining the reciprocity of changes in social and ecological systems.

 

ESSC 604               Sustainability Methodology

This course provides an overview of methodologies in sustainability research, including reviews of function and structure, principal assumptions, and strengths and weaknesses in its application. Students are introduced to integrated methodological frameworks and tools that will aid in outlining appropriate research strategies from description of problem and analysis to strategy building.

 

ESSC 607               Natural Ecosystems and Resource Use

The course examines how human activities and management practices alter biodiversity, ecosystems functioning and the provision of ecosystems services.  Students will acquire knowledge to make informed intellectual contributions to academic and policy discourse, analyze the implications of human valuations for ecosystems, and propose strategic options for sustainably maintaining healthy ecosystems. 

 

ESSC 608               Governance and Sustainability

This course describes the role of governance and decision-making in human-environment interactions. Students will be provided with an opportunity to analyse potential challenges that stakeholders may have in pursuing sustainable development programmes.

 

ESSC 609               Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture

This course describes food production systems and governance, sustainability and resilience, as well as food security with its political, technological, economic, social and environmental components.  The student is educated on the challenges for achieving sustainable agriculture, such as trade-offs between food security and other goals, the relationship between non-renewable resources and food production, and the opportunities and solutions that are available.

 

ESSC 610               Seminar I

In Year 1, each student is expected to attend all seminars specified by the Institute and make a presentation on his/her research proposal in the second semester. The presentation will be assessed for three (3) credits.

 

ESSC 611               Water Governance for Sustainability

The course highlights the complex environmental and socio-economic roles of water, human impacts on hydrological systems, conflicts assessment and sustainability of water management.  It builds capacity of students to: appreciate reasons for problems in and conflicts over water; understand anthropogenic interferences and climate change impacts; apply water study approaches and determine tools for assessing problems and conflicts; and appreciate management strategies.

 

ESSC 612               Sustainability of Built Environments

This course examines the interactions between built environments and natural environments and how to minimize the environmental footprints of settlement development.  Students will build their capacities to apply these concepts to: reduce risks and vulnerability; increase resilience; and improve preparedness to deal with natural, technological and human-induced disasters.

 

ESSC 613               Sustainable Societies

The course highlights critical environmental, social and economic sustainable development issues as a basis for empowering students to be agents of positive change in their communities. Emphasis is placed on individual responsibility for sustainable development. The course challenges students to explore sustainability problems and challenges facing societies, and the range of strategies for addressing them. 

 

ESSC 614               Sustainable Energy Systems

This course deals with the sustainability of energy and the production, delivery, efficiency, economics, policy, and regulation in its supply and consumption.  Students will be able to understand various models of energy supply, evaluate competing claims in the energy sector, and assess technical and economic interactions in developing energy systems.

 

ESSC 615               Process Modeling

This course builds skills of students in environmental test and measurement through process modeling. Students will understand the main concepts in process modeling and simulation, explain fundamental concepts of sustainable supply chain process modeling, and perform process modeling and simulation in environmental sciences.

 

ESSC 616               Sustainability and Industrial Ecology

This course seeks to develop students’ understanding of sustainability as the globally accepted goal of development and to know the characteristics of sustainability in the context of a business enterprise. At the end of the course, students will understand the landscape and potentials of industrial symbiosis projects, particularly when using the support of ICT and corporate environmental management information system (CEMIS).

 

ESSC 617               Information Systems and Corporate Environmental Management

This course focuses on environmental management and information systems for environmental management within the industrial context. Students are introduced to the relevance of information systems in corporate environmental management, the integration of environmental management in environmental policy and corporate strategies, including principles and key elements of corporate environmental management (CEM) in accordance with certification standards.

 

ESSC 618               Material Flow Analysis and Management

The course aims to integrate the use of computer with the process of managing environmental issues. Students will understand the relationship between computer-based instruments and corporate environmental management/sustainability management as well as apply computer tools for material flow analysis and life cycle assessment.

 

ESSC 620               Seminar II

In Year 2, each student will make a presentation on the progress of his/her thesis and be assessed for three (3) credits.

 

IESS 605                Research Methods

This module addresses proposal writing and the research process, with references to complex systems and scientific reporting. It is designed to develop skills and ability to formulate researchable problems, articulate knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts; write effective proposals, design and execute research; identify appropriate statistical techniques, including nonparametric statistics; analyze and interpret output; communicate scientific information and knowledge in writing; manage working time, scheduled tasks, and meet deadlines developed.

 

IESS 606               Special Project

This course requires students to apply learnt concepts in various fields of study under each programme. At the end of the course, students should have carried out independent research (either practical or desk-based) to produce reports of the research in a number of different formats (e.g. written, verbal); be competent in constructing logically sound arguments and analysing scientific theories and data-generating methodologies (e.g. experiments, surveys), improve their expertise in at least one specialist area (e.g. modelling or policy analysis).