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Global Forests and People

7.5 ECTS Copenhagen Year 1 Semester 1 Compulsory Integrative/inter/transdisciplinary NIFK22002U


The course provides you with a people-oriented global approach to sustainable environmental resource management, combining readings with exercises. Emphasis is on the relationships between people, environmental resource use, and conservation, with a particular focus on forests. The course offers a combination of guided readings, in-class discussions and exercises, online discussions and tests, and detailed feedback on two individual essays.

Central themes are

  • Paradigms – what ideas and views guide forest use and conservation?
  • Livelihoods – how do people rely on environmental resources? What are the relationships between forests and human health?
  • Valuation – how can we put a price on environmental products and make their importance to local people visible?
  • Forest cover – how much forest is there, and how do we know?
  • Deforestation – why do forests disappear, and what can be done?
  • Policies – what characterises national policies? What global policies exist and why? Do policies work?
  • Sustainable forest management – can REDD, certification or other instruments save the tropical and sub-tropical forests?

In addition, the course provides guidance and exercises in essay writing.

Recommended Academic Qualifications

The course draws on basic elements of economic theory and management of renewable natural resources, all or part of which are introduced in a wide range of undergraduate programmes.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

Learning outcomes

This course provides an introduction to essential contemporary issues related to global forests. The aim is to give students a thorough understanding of the relationships between forests and people, e.g. the role of environmental products in improving rural livelihoods. It is stressed that environmental products are an integral part of society and should not be considered in isolation.

After finishing the course, the student is expected to be able to:


Understand key contemporary issues in global forestry, including forest reliance, deforestation, the potential of using environmental products to prevent and reduce poverty, the connections between forests and human health, environmental product valuation methods, national and global forest policy and processes, and the potential of using market-based mechanisms to achieve sustainable forest management


  • Apply principles, theories, and frameworks to case studies
  • Make a judgment on the quality of scientific publications
  • Communicate clearly, concisely, and confidently in written format


  • Argue cogently and think critically within the parameters of a particular academic discipline
  • Reflect on the nature of poverty and the role of environmental products in poverty alleviation
  • Demonstrate the values of scholarship: inquiry, reflection, integrity, open-mindedness, evidence-based thinking, and collegiality
  • Tackle problems by collecting, analysing and evaluating appropriate qualitative and quantitative information and using it creatively

Teaching and learning methods

The course is provided through a web-based teaching and learning system as well as in the classroom. Modules focus on integrating literature studies and exercises, including online discussions mediated by faculty. Exercises focus on understanding theory and using theory on actual cases. Each student is provided guidance in essay writing and receive detailed feedback on two individual essays.


  • Preparation                134 hours
  • Lectures                      48 hours
  • E-learning                   24 hours
  • Total                             206 hours


Course materials include selected scientific articles, book chapters, lecture notes, video clips, and slideshows. These are all accessible through the course homepage.

Type of assessment

  • Individual
  • Written assignment, Participation
  • Continuous assessment

    Students are assessed according to (i) their completion of exercises throughout the course (online discussions and multiple-choice exercises) and (ii) through two teacher commented essays. The essays are distributed and submitted electronically. Completion of exercises and essays count 40% and 60% respectively towards the final mark. The final grade is calculated as the above sum accumulated sum (in percentage), and you pass if the average grade is 02 or above (equivalent to a total course score of minimum 50%)


  • Location : Copenhagen
  • ECTS granting : University of Copenhagen
  • Organisation : University of Copenhagen, AgroParisTech, Technische Universität Dresden, Czech University Of Life Sciences Prague, University of Padua


Carsten Smith-Hall