Ecological Economics and Degrowth Principles

Number of credits: 6 European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) Price: 840 €
Price for UAB students*: 200 €
*Max. 5 places
Teaching Language: English Place: UAB Campus Bellaterra (Cerdanyola del Vallès), Barcelona

Teaching Period: 22 June to 10 July


Professor:  Claudio Cattaneo

Enrol now!

Enrolment guidelines


Claudio Cattaneo holds a PhD in environmental science is associate professor of ecological economics at UAB and director of the ICTA-UAB master in Political Ecology Degrowth and Environmental Justice. He is a member of Research and Degrowth and of the Can Masdeu eco-community, in the hills of Barcleona. His research interests are related to social metabolism, agroecology, energy-landscape integrated analysis and analysis of the squatters movement. He his author of several papers in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters and editor of the book “The Squatters Movement in Europe, Pluto Press”. He has a 15 year teaching experience in ecological economics.


Contents overview

The conventional economic model is based on the hypothesis of infinite monetary growth, made of virtual bank money. Nonetheless it also requires considerable inputs of energy and materials, which are not infinite and have an impact on our planet. Environmental signals show us we are on the edge of a crisis and the uncertainty about our future environment relates to the development of a new discipline: ecological economics.

The course aims at presenting a new perspective in the economic field by relating it to the environment: it will consider the possibility of green economic growth, the main dilemmas and implications for the environment; students will be able to contrast two economic visions, that of growth-based economics and of ecological economics and the real-world implications of each one: the trade-off between economic growth (and job creation) and environmental protection and social justice. As well it aims to re-embed economic analysis with social and human dimensions.

The course will adopt Team-Based Learning a novel teaching method in which the students have to read compulsory material prior to the class, and will be evaluated with a closed-answer quiz at the start of each class, first to be answered alone, then with the team. The rest of the session will consist of a short taught class, watching documentaries related to the topic of the day, team work analysing the documentary, a presentation to the class by a team randomly selected and a class discussion based on the video presentation and the theory exposed. Homework assignments will be reading the material for the next day and, in the third week when all groups will have already presented, the writing of a report based on the video presentation and the feed-back obtained in class. The final mark will be based on the results of the closed-answer tests and the written report. In the last three days there will be two visits to real-life projects related to the topics of the course and, for the last day, an overall evaluation and take-home insights.

Week programme

Week Contents Teaching / lerning activites
1 Foundations of Ecological Economics, filed visits Monday: presentation of the course. Tuesday to Friday: compulsory home readings, quiz, short class, video watching, team work, class presentation and discussion. Thursday or Friday: field visit
2 Applications of Ecological Economics Compulsory home readings, quiz, short class, video watching, team work, class presentation and discussion
3 Degrowth principles, field visits Monday and Tuesday: compulsory home readings, quiz, short class, video watching, team work, class presentation and discussion. Wednesday or Thursday: field visit. Friday: evaluation and closing of the course


Outputs and exercises that the student is going to do to have the qualification. Including deadlines. NOTE that one day before the end of the period the student’s performance must be completely evaluated and communicated to Class attendance, with signature sheet, 35% of the final mark, with 100% attendance = 10, 50% = 5 and so on.

- From day 2 to day 13 of the course: 5-6 closed-answer quizzes , based on the compulsory readings in preparation to the class. [Contributing to 35% of the final mark].

- From day 2 to day 12 of the course: group video presentations –depending on the size of the team and the number of enrolled students, each team will present once in class. [Contributing to 15% of the final mark].

- By the beginning of week 3 prepare a report based on an environmental conflict that the team has analize, for uploading in the EJatlas. [Contributing to 15% of the final mark] It is expected by the end of the class on day 13 (Wednesdayof week 3) the student evaluation will have been completely evaluated and communicated.

Links and references

Basic and advanced bibliography including books, articles and internet links. 

Week 1: Foundations of ecological economics.

Readings will be available from this online book (most in Part I and Part II):

The first 9 activities from this website:

Week 2: Applications of ecological economics. Readings from part VI of:

A tutorial booklet on Social Multicriteria Evaluation (attached, with further readings in the reference section)

Week 3: degrowth principles 5-6 activities from this website (those that follow “The story of stuff”):

Analyze and discuss entries from the degrowth vocaboulary.