Sustainability Science, Environmental Science
Group of courses: Engineering
Students should learn to critically analyse and evaluate concepts, methods, scientific approaches, procedures and findings of environmental and sustainability research from a gender perspective. They should become familiar with the basic premises of a feminist philosophy of (natural) science, environmental, technological and sustainability research as well as economy-critical approaches. The aim is to enable students to understand the significance of the category of gender (and other social differentiations such as social stratum and ethnicity) for scientific analytical and evaluative procedures, and its importance for generating concepts, strategies and programmes on environmental and sustainability policies. Students should be able to apply this understanding to their own research. The central teaching and course objectives are thus critical and reflective faculties as a basis for enabling students to carry out independent scientific study on inter- and transdisciplinary subjects and research fields in environmental and sustainability sciences, taking the findings of women's and gender studies into account.
Understanding the interconnections and interactions between natural and gender relations in society is central for explaining the significance of gender as a category in environmental science. For the formulation of course content, this means that alongside application-oriented questions of critical environmental research from a gender perspective (e.g. in subject areas such as material streams and products, resource planning and conservation management), students should gain a basic understanding of how gender can be used as a critical analytical and conceptual category in environmental and sustainability sciences. This involves the following:
Women's and gender studies have made the following main contributions to the area of philosophy of (natural) science:
The field of sustainability studies overlaps with many of the above topics in philosophy of science (e.g. interdisciplinarity, teaching approaches to relations between nature and society) and environmental science. However, political discourse on sustainability and scientific sustainability research imply additional explicit aspects of gender discourse (and vice versa: gender studies offer specific positions on sustainability). These go beyond the teaching content outlined above and strengthen the integrative perspective of socio-ecological aspects based on gender as a category. The following contributions of gender-oriented sustainability studies are of interest:
Students should be given the opportunity to gain methodological skills in addition to those used in environmental and sustainability studies. These skills should enable them to integrate the category of gender (and other social differentiations such as social stratum and ethnicity) into environmental analysis and evaluation processes as well as into concepts, strategies and programmes of environmental and sustainability policies. This means teaching the following methodologies:
These subject areas are of course open to further research. There have been many recent contributions and studies on gender-oriented approaches to resource planning and management. They introduce strategies, e.g. for implementing sustainable/precautionary water use, for gender-sensitive research and policy design in the fields of energy supply and emission control, or for an approach to possible gender-specific effects of the European Emissions Trading System. Current work also includes gender-oriented approaches in the area of conservation, conservation design and conservation management, e.g. on gender-coded concepts of nature and ideas of what is worth conserving or on the relevance of gender aspects for work in environmental and conservation associations and organisations. Relevant studies have been carried out especially in the field of socio-ecological research, analysing environmental problems with interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches and integrative aims, and placing them in the context of society and nature.
Gender issues cut across many different areas. The findings of women's and gender studies and gender perspectives should therefore be an integral part of environmental and especially sustainability studies curricula. In natural science subjects, both the basics of critical scientific theory from the gender perspective (e.g. 'objectivity') and discipline-specific positions of scientific theory from women's and gender studies should be taught. We also recommend integrating the above content in problem-focused and project-oriented teaching.
In addition, specific gender modules should be offered, which in scope and weighting should be adapted to the orientation of the degree course – environmental or sustainability studies – as well as to the specific layout of the respective degree course.
The above content should be included in the Bachelor's degree courses. The module element 'Gender relations and sustainability' should be weighted differently, depending on the design of the particular course. The other issues should be taught in the second and third year of study (specialisation stage). It is recommended to deal with the research-based modules/module elements that use gender as a conceptual approach to environmental and sustainability topics in more detail in the Master's study courses. All gender-related modules or module elements should be project-oriented, if possible.