Course overview

Ecosystems, Resilience and Governance (ERG) was a two-year 120 ECTS Master's degree inspired by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

ERG has from 2011 been replaced by our new Master's programme

Social-ecological Resilience for Sustainable Development


To enable an in-depth understanding of complex social-ecological systems we explore theory and case studies in preparation for student thesis research projects. Ecosystem management is affected by drivers (social, economic, ecological) at various scales (local to global). Adaptation and governance at different scales are, therefore, crucial for our understanding of resilience in social-ecological systems.

Programme layout
The first year consists of four compulsory courses (7.5 ECTS each), and 30 ECTS-worth of elective courses.

The second year is spent writing a Master´s thesis 60 ECTS. Students can spend most of this year abroad doing fieldwork and may have a co-supervisor at another university.

Compulsory first-year courses
Resilience, Adaptability and Transformability (7.5 ECTS)
This course introduces the participants to the emerging research area with the same name. Different perspectives on complex adaptive systems and their resilience, adaptability and transformability are discussed by international experts representing various disciplines.

Philosophy of Science for Interdisciplinary Environmental Research (7.5 ECTS)  
Analysing and responding to today´s pressing environmental conflicts requires an integrated and interdisciplinary approach. Awareness of our own assumptions and those of scholars trained in other disciplines is needed.

Ecosystem Management (7.5 ECTS)
Lectures discuss concepts such as ecological resilience, complex adaptive systems, functional biodiversity, threshold effects, multiple stable domains, cross-scale interactions and social-ecological systems, as well as key challenges for natural resource management in an human dominated world.

Adaptive Governance of Social-Ecological Systems (7.5 ECTS)
We focus on institutional and organisational aspects of ecosystem management, in particular how governance can enable adaptive co-management. Other key concepts that are analysed include collaboration in social networks, leadership, social capital, vulnerability and social resilience, i.e. the human adaptive capacity to absorb environmental change.

Additional first-year courses
Social-Ecological Resilience: Applications (7.5 ECTS)
This course draws on theories from earlier courses in the Master´s programme Ecosystems, Resilience and Governance. Students will work in groups on a case study in preparation for the Master´s thesis. They will practice research, academic writing and presentation.

Methods for Transdisciplinary Environmental Research (7.5 ECTS)
This course introduces participants to research design aspects of and methods for transdisciplinary science in preparation for their thesis work. Special attention will be given to the challenges facing transdisciplinary research, such as the lack of specific methods and complex questions. The course culminates in a seminar series that will allow participants to deepen their understanding of one or two specific methods introduced during the course.

Course facts
The programme is inspired by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment which emphasises the dependence of human welfare on well-functioning ecosystem services.


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Stockholm Resilience Centre

Stockholm University, Kräftriket 2B | Phone: +46 8 674 70 70 |
Organisation number: 202100-3062 | VAT No: SE202100306201