Ecological economics of natural resources

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NR 5984 (CRN 16812)

Northern Virginia Center

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

College of Natural Resources

Spring Semester 2007


Room 221, Virginia Tech Northern Virginia Center, 7054 Haycock Road, Falls Church, Virginia


Wednesday evenings, 7:00-9:45 PM


Brian Czech, Visiting Assistant Professor, National Capitol Region, Virginia Tech, cellphone: 703-901-7190, email: Office hours by appointment.


Ecology is the natural science that deals with relationships among all organisms and their environments. Ecological studies have traditionally focused on interpreting the non-human world and have provided little explicit application to human society. Economics is the social science that deals with the production, distribution, and consumption of human goods and services. Traditional or “neoclassical” economics has often disregarded ecological principles, thus leading to ecologically untenable policy implications.

Ecological economics fuses ecology and economics to assess the capabilities of natural ecosystems to support economic systems. Ecological economics interprets economic systems as, in large part, an evolutionary function of the physical and biological environment. Conversely, ecological economics assesses the effects of human economies on the natural world. Ecological economics rests upon a foundation of ecological principles, producing policy implications that are often quite distinct from those of neoclassical economics.
This course provides a historical overview of various schools of economic thought, presents the major principles required to fuse ecology with economics, and helps students to analyze economic policies under the lens of ecological reality. Particular attention is paid to economic growth theory and policy as it pertains to the sustainability of human society and management of natural resources. This is a transdisciplinary course, incorporating relevant principles and practices from political science, psychology, and physics in addition to ecology and economics. Students are not required to construct mathematical models.

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