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Exercise course: Risk, vulnerability and adaptation of social-ecological systems ()

WS 2009/2010
Tu.: 14:15-16:00, GEO Room 11

Detlef Müller-Mahn

Seminar „Risk, Vulnerability and Adaptation of Social-Ecological Systems“

Prof. Dr. Detlef Müller-Mahn  winter term 2009/2010


First meeting:

tuesday 27 October 2.15 pm, Geo, room 11



The seminar aims at a critical assessment of some of the key concepts that are currently debated in the context of global change and the transformation of the relationship between society and natural environment. This includes climate change adaptation, adaptive capacity and governance, social and natural capital, vulnerability, resilience, and as more general issues: risk and uncertainty. The seminar will focus on theoretical questions and controversies from a social science perspective.



The Kyoto Protocoll that still serves as the global platform of collective action against climate change focused primarily on mitigation measures and the control of greenhouse gas emissions. This focus is currently undergoing a significant shift towards adaptation, with potentially far-reaching consequences. One of the key messages of the 4th assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had been that climate change cannot be prevented, and that people all over the world have to prepare for its unevitable consequences. Adaptation to climate change has therefore become the crucial issue in the ongoing international negotiations in the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kopenhagen conference in December 2009.


Target group:

PhD students of TERRECO and BIGSAS

Master students of Global Change Ecology

Master students of Geography


Organisation and requirements:

All participants are expected to do extensive reading on the basis of a reading list, and to take part in the discussion of the topics. In addition, each participant takes responsibility to introduce one of the selected topics in a short presentation and a summary of the main arguments. The main part of class work will be given to discussion. After a first meeting to discuss the planning of the seminar, the next meetings will be held in 3 to 4 longer sessions in late November, December and January.



-         Concepts of risk from natural and social science perspectives

-         Vulnerability research, resilience and sustainable livelihoods

-         Concepts of Adaptation and Adaptive governance

-         The concept of social capital

-         Social adaptation and development – controversies, convergences, compromises

-         Social aspects of natural hazards and disaster prevention

-         Climate change discourses and environmental determinism


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last modified 2009-10-24