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  3. Sustainable Landscapes

Sustainable Landscapes (ENST90043)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeENST90043
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Sustainable Landscapes combines social and ecological disciplines to consider the management of urban and rural/regional landscapes for sustainable futures. Subject teaching includes weekly lectures and a 1x weekend field trip to observe and discuss management of landscapes for sustainable outcomes. Australian and overseas case studies are drawn upon to cover the following topics:

  • the meaning and significance of sustainability in the context of urban, urban fringe, rural, and regional landscapes and their futures;
  • rural and urban land use, and drivers of current and future landscape change, including fragmentation, social change and transformation, biodiversity loss, industrialisation, intensification, pollution, sovereignty, and security;
  • assumptions around land ownership, ethics and economics that influence issues of environmental security, commons and sustainable regional futures; · the utilisation, degradation, and management of rural and urban biophysical resources for sustainable futures, including maintenance of ecosystem services and processes;
  • the involvement of different stakeholders in decision making for regional, service, rural, fringe and urban areas, including the role of relationships and social features such as politics, memory, and values; and
  • the role of governance, including institutions, deliberative democracy, empowerment; and community based natural resource management in navigating landscape change.

The content and the issues raised will draw upon and integrate theory, knowledge and practices from different disciplines familiarising students with systems theory and how it is integral to framing an understanding of landscape management. Theories of complex adaptive systems, social ecological systems, uncertainty, resilience and complexity will also frame the investigation of these issues. Landscape ecology sciences, social sciences (including cultural geographies) and policy frameworks will be drawn upon in analysing and evaluating landscapes and their futures, with a strong focus on community-based knowledge systems. Students will engage deeply with the literature that informs these ideas and will develop a critical understanding of their value and limitations.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this subject, students should be able to:


  • define, assess and evaluate rural and urban land use and land use change, and discuss the implications for the sustainable futures of urban, rural or regional populations and biophysical resources;
  • apply policy and planning tools that influence social, community, and ecological resilience and governance;
  • apply different methods and methodologies to analyse issues of uncertainty, risk and conflict in landscape decision making and landscape management practice;
  • apply different methods and methodologies to analyse issues of uncertainty, risk and conflict in landscape decision making and landscape management practice;
  • chart agro‐ecological, stakeholder and social community interrelations;
  • describe and evaluate issues of governance, land ownership, ethics and economics as they relate to environmental security, the commons, and sustainable regional futures;
  • describe and consider Indigenous and other stakeholders contributions to landscape futures;
  • demonstrate an understanding of the political and social constraints on the management of the wider landscape and its interface with peri‐urban spaces;
  • identify interactions amongst rural, regional and urban social ecological systems, and apply an understanding of them to critically assess and suggest improvements to policy and planning approaches in the management and design of the regional landscapes;

Generic skills

  • social and ecological systems thinking and their integration in landscape policy and planning;
  • research, critical analysis and critical reflection through readings, lectures, and assessment;
  • interdisciplinary thinking as an individual and collaboration as part of a team, through the application and integration of theory to complex issues;
  • thinking through issues of complexity by developing methodological approaches and methods to assist decision processes and practice.

Last updated: 19 July 2019