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AG2803 Ecosystem Support and Environmental Justice 7.5 credits

The course will deal with ecological systems as a basis for society through generating products and services supporting human production and consumption.

Course offering missing for current semester as well as for previous and coming semesters
Headings with content from the Course syllabus AG2803 (Autumn 2020–) are denoted with an asterisk ( )

Content and learning outcomes

Course contents

The course links and introduces basic concepts in the areas of ecosystem support and environmental justice – two perspectives that are often ignored in policy and planning. The course illustrates and discusses the ecological resource base needed to support urban structures and a consumption-intensive lifestyle, as well as how natural resources and negative environmental impacts are distributed between different groups in society. The course also discusses strategies for sustainable, just and inclusive use of natural and potentials for promoting environmental justice in planning and environmental engineering.

Intended learning outcomes

1. Briefly describe the historical roots of the research field and the movement "environmental justice" and discuss what the concept means today

2. Be able to explain what “ecosystem support” means

3. Be able to discuss and exemplify how urban and western societies depend on and affect socioecological systems locally and globally

4. Be able to reflect on how environmental justice and ecosystem support are related and how these discourses relate to other sustainability discourses

5. Be able to evaluate real cases by applying theories of environmental justice and ecosystem support and develop suggestions on how a more socio-ecological just planning / environmental engineering can be implemented and reflect on the conditions for this

Course disposition

The course is based on discussions of assignments prepared by the students and project works where students will apply the theories of the course on real cases. The course also includes a series of lectures that explain the theories and give concrete examples. The course’s activities are designed to help students reach the learning goals.

Lectures / seminars (SEM1): During the first half of the course lectures with integrated discussion seminars will take place. As a preparation for the seminars, students will read parts of the course literature and write assignments. Lectures / seminars require active participation and in order to participate, the students must prepare themselves in advance.

Literature assignment (LIT2): During the first half of the course, students also write a larger individual written assignment based on the course literature.

Project work (PRO1): During the second half of the course, students work in groups of 3-4. The group writes a report that reports and discusses the outcome of the work. The project work will be based on knowledge from lectures and literature and own research on a specific case. The reports will be presented and discussed during a seminar. Each group must read and oppose the work of another group.

Each student should also write an individual reflective text about the student’s experiences from the group work. The text should show how well they have achieved learning objective 5.

Literature and preparations

Specific prerequisites

3 years of university studies within the field of Planning, Architecture, Engineering or Social Science. Documented proficiency in English B or equivalent (TOEFL, IELTS, for example).

Recommended prerequisites

AG2811 Planning for Resilience and AG2805 Sustainable Planning and Design, or AG2142 Political Economy for Environmental Planners and AG2143 Sustainable Rural and Urban Development or similar courses.


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Agyeman, J. and Evans, T. 2003. Toward Just Sustainability in Urban Communities: Building Equity Rights with Sustainable Solutions: Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 590: 35-53

Bradley, K., Gunnarsson-Östling, U. and Isaksson, K. (2008) “Exploring environmental justice in Sweden – How to improve planning for environmental sustainability and social equity in an “eco-friendly” context”. Projections, MIT Journal of Planning, 8, pp 68-81.

Bullard, R. 2001. Environmental Justice in the 21st Century: Race Still Matters. Phylon 49 (3/4): 151-171.Stable URL:

Gunnarsson Östling, U. and Svenfelt, Å. In press. Sustainability discourses and justice: towards social-ecological justice. In Handbook of Environmental Justice. (will be handed out)

Hornborg, A. 2011. Zero-sum world: How to think about ecologically unequal exchange. In: Hornborg (Ed.) Global Ecology and Unequal Exchange Fetishism in a zero-sum world. Routledge, Oxon. Available as E-book in KTH library.

Humphrey, M. 2002. The Foundations of Ecocentrism. In: Preservation Versus the People?: Nature, Humanity, and Political Philosophy. Oxford Scholarship Online. (p 1-6)

MEA (Millenium Ecosystem Assessment) (2005). Chapter 2: Ecosystems and their services. In: Ecosystems and human well-being: synthesis. Island Press, Washington DC.

Movik, S. 2014. A fair share? Perceptions of justice in South Africa’s water allocation reform policy. Geoforum 54 (July 2014) 187–195. (The specific South African case can be read extensively)

Ostrom, E. (2009). A General Framework for Analyzing Sustainability of Social-Ecological Systems. Science,325(5939), 419–422.

Schlosberg, D. 2012. Climate Justice and Capabilities: A Framework for Adaptation Policy. Ethics & International Affairs 26(4), pp. 445-461

Sikor, T. and Newell, P. Globalizing environmental justice? (Editorial) Geoforum 54 (July 2014) 151-157.

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Examination and completion

If the course is discontinued, students may request to be examined during the following two academic years.

Grading scale

A, B, C, D, E, FX, F


  • LIT2 - Literature Assignment, 3.0 credits, grading scale: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F
  • PRO1 - Project work, 4.0 credits, grading scale: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F
  • SEM1 - Seminar, 0.5 credits, grading scale: P, F

Based on recommendation from KTH’s coordinator for disabilities, the examiner will decide how to adapt an examination for students with documented disability.

The examiner may apply another examination format when re-examining individual students.

LIT2: Individual literature assignment based on the course literature.

PRO1: Project work on planning with ecosystem support and environmental perspectives and an individual reflective text.

SEM1: Seminars where key concepts and literature are discussed.

The final grade is calculated as a rounded weighted average of LIT2 and PRO1, where PRO1 has weight 4 and LIT2 has weight 3.

Other requirements for final grade

Grading criteria are specified for each course round

Opportunity to complete the requirements via supplementary examination

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Opportunity to raise an approved grade via renewed examination

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Ethical approach

  • All members of a group are responsible for the group's work.
  • In any assessment, every student shall honestly disclose any help received and sources used.
  • In an oral assessment, every student shall be able to present and answer questions about the entire assignment and solution.

Further information

Course web

Further information about the course can be found on the Course web at the link below. Information on the Course web will later be moved to this site.

Course web AG2803

Offered by

ABE/Sustainability and Environmental Engineering

Main field of study

Built Environment

Education cycle

Second cycle

Add-on studies

No information inserted

Transitional regulations

Transitional regulations are in place until HT21, whereafter it is not possible to complete course AG2803.

SEM1 (AG2803) can be replaced by four seminars in SEM1 (AL2503). If the student already has completed seminars in SEM1 (AG2803), the student should participate in seminars of SEM1 (AL2503) with other content.

LIT2 (AG2803) can be replaced by TEN1 (AL2503). Note that the course literature can change between different course rounds.

PRO1 (AG2803) can be replaced by PRO1 (AL2503) plus a written supplementary assignment of 1 hp.

Supplementary information

The course is replaced by AL2503 for THSSM and TMHIM from HT20