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Sustainability, Development and Inequality

Sustainability, Development and Inequality
Master programme in
Global Studies * / Global and Development Studies / European Master in Global Studies
Type of activity


Teaching language
Study regulation

Read about the Master Programme and find the Study Regulations at ruc.dk


You register for activities through stads selvbetjening during the announced registration period, which you can see on the Study administration homepage.

When registering for courses, please be aware of the potential conflicts and overlaps between course and exam time and dates. The planning of course activities at Roskilde University is based on the recommended study programmes, which should not overlap. However, if you choose optional courses and/or study plans that goes beyond the recommended study programmes, an overlap of lectures or exam dates may occur depending on which courses you choose.

Number of participants
Responsible for the activity
Lone Riisgaard (loner@ruc.dk)
Malin Nystrand (malinn@ruc.dk)
Head of study
Study administration
ISE Registration & Exams (ise-exams@ruc.dk)
Exam code(s)
Overall objective

This course provides students with an in-depth understanding of the causes and consequences of sustainability, development and inequality, including their social, environmental, economic, historical, political and spatial dimensions. Students are familiarised with different theoretical debates and cases relevant to the study of sustainability, development and inequality. Students acquire skills in how to apply these theories in order to critically understand and evaluate questions of sustainability, development and inequality, including their local, national, international and global dimensions. Students are enabled to interrogate diverse outcomes and understandings of sustainability, development, and inequality, allowing them to think of these topics in new ways and explore future pathways.

Detailed description of content

This course starts by presenting the history of the concept of sustainability focusing on its environmental, economic and social dimensions. The Brundtland report and the notion of Sustainable Development are an important component of this history. The course then presents the Sustainable Development Goals as the current iteration of sustainability, and the history of this framework, the role of frameworks and the characteristics of this particular global framework. The next session goes into more detail on the new actors, structures and processes that are part of sustainability as defined in the sustainable development goals. This includes the key actors that are involved, such as business, government, civil society, international organizations and the general public, as well as the funding mechanisms envisioned and the accountability measures in places. The following five sessions are case based and linked to different SDGs. One session must discuss global inequality, but otherwise, the order and composition of these sessions can change from semester to semester. In each case-based session, the students will be introduced to causes, consequences and relevant approaches. The course will also include presentations from organisations working with the SDGs in various ways.

Course material and Reading list

The literature below is indicative, i.e. more literature will be added.

Brightman, Marc and Lewis, Jerome (eds) 2017. The Anthropology of Sustainability: Beyond Development and Progress. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Büscher, B. (2019). From ‘Global’ to ‘Revolutionary’ Development. Development and Change, 50(2), 484–494. https://doi.org/10.1111/dech.12491

Chimhowu, A. O., Hulme, D. & Munro, L.T. (2019). The ‘New’ national development planning and global development goals: Processes and partnerships. World Development, 120, pp. 76-89. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2019.03.013

Davis, K. E., Fisher, A., Kingsbury, B., & Merry, S., E. (2012). Governance by indicators: Global power through quantification and rankings. Oxford University Press [in association with] Institute for International Law and Justice, New York University School of Law.

Fukuda-Parr, S. (2016). From the Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals: shifts in purpose, concept, and politics of global goal setting for development. Gender & Development, 24(1), 43–52. https://doi.org/10.1080/13552074.2016.1145895

Fukuda‐Parr, S. & McNeill, D. (2019). Knowledge and Politics in Setting and Measuring the SDGs: Introduction to Special Issue. Glob Policy, 1, 5-15. https://doi.org/10.1111/1758-5899.12604

Fukuda-Parr, S., & Muchhala, B. (2020). The Southern origins of sustainable development goals: Ideas, actors, aspirations. World Development, 126, 104706. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2019.104706

Hickel, Jason (2019) The contradiction of the sustainable development goals: Growth versus ecology on a finite planet. Sustainable Development 27(5)

Horner, R. & Hulme, D. (2019). From International to Global Development: New Geographies of 21st Century Development. Development and Change, 50(2), 347–378. https://doi.org/10.1111/dech.12379

Horner, R. (2020). Towards a new paradigm of global development? Beyond the limits of international development. Progress in Human Geography, 44(3), 415-436. https://doi.org/10.1177/0309132519836158

Mawdsley, E. (2018). ‘From billions to trillions’: Financing the SDGs in a world ‘beyond aid.’ Dialogues in Human Geography, 8(2), 191–195. https://doi.org/10.1177/2043820618780789

Merry, S. E. (2019). The Sustainable Development Goals Confront the Infrastructure of Measurement. Global Policy, 10(S1), 146–148. https://doi.org/10.1111/1758-5899.12606

Rist, Gilbert. 2008. "The Environment, or the New Nature of 'Development'." Chapter 10 in The history of development: from Western origins to global faith, 171-196

Scheyvens, R., Banks, G and Hughes, E. (2016). The Private Sector and the SDGs: The Need to Move Beyond “Business as Usual.” Sustainable Development, 24(6), 371-382. https://doi.org/10.1002/sd.1623

van Zanten, J.A. & van Tulder, R. (2018). Multinational enterprises and the Sustainable Development Goals: An institutional approach to corporate engagement. Journal of International Business Policy, 1(3-4), 208–233. https://doi.org/10.1057/s42214-018-0008-x

Overall plan and expected work effort

ECTS points for this course: 5 ECTS, i.e. ca 135 hrs work effort.

Course sessions: 10 x 2= 20 hrs

Written take-home exam: 30 hrs

Preparation, reading, self-study: 85 hrs

Evaluation and feedback

The activities are evaluated regularly regarding the study board evaluation procedure. The activity responsible will be orientated about a potential evaluation of the activity at semesterstart. Se link to the study board evaluation praxis here https://intra.ruc.dk/nc/for-ansatte/organisering/raadnaevn- og-udvalg/oversigt-over-studienaevn/studienaevn-for-internationale-studier/arbejdet-medkvalitet- i-uddannelserne/


Detailed programme will be provided on Moodle

Overall learning outcomes
  • Students acquire state-of-the-art knowledge and skills regarding the causes and consequences of sustainability, development and inequality, including their social, environmental, economic, political and spatial dimensions.

  • They develop understanding of different theoretical debates and cases of sustainability, development, and inequality in their local, national, international, and global dimensions.

  • They acquire an advanced understanding of different theoretical debates related to these subjects and develop skills in selecting and critically applying relevant theories and methods, including in choosing relevant approaches in order to investigate a problem area. They also develop skills in communicating and discussing theories and empirical results.

Form of examination
Individual written take-home assignment.

The character limit of the assignment is: maximum 14,400 characters, including spaces.
The character limit includes the cover, table of contents, bibliography, figures and other illustrations, but exclude any appendices.

The duration of the take-home assignment is 48 hours and may include weekends and public holidays.

Assessment: 7-point grading scale.
Form of Re-examination
Samme som ordinær eksamen / same form as ordinary exam
Type of examination in special cases
Examination and assessment criteria

Describe, summarise and critically discuss causes and consequences of sustainability, development and inequality

Illustrate and exemplify how these theoretical tools can be used when discussing specific cases

Select, compare/combine and apply theoretical perspectives, tools and methods in relevant problem areas.

Formulate convincing and academic arguments on the relevance of the chosen approach(es) in investigating a given problem area.

Exam code(s)
Exam code(s) : U60117
Last changed 02/05/2023

lecture list:

Show lessons for Subclass: 1 Find calendar (1) PDF for print (1)

Wednesday 06-09-2023 08:15 - 06-09-2023 10:00 in week 36
Sustainability, Development and Inequality (GDS, EMGS)

Wednesday 13-09-2023 08:15 - 13-09-2023 10:00 in week 37
Sustainability, Development and Inequality (GDS, EMGS)

Wednesday 20-09-2023 08:15 - 20-09-2023 10:00 in week 38
Sustainability, Development and Inequality (GDS, EMGS)

Wednesday 27-09-2023 08:15 - 27-09-2023 10:00 in week 39
Sustainability, Development and Inequality (GDS, EMGS)

Wednesday 27-09-2023 10:15 - 27-09-2023 12:00 in week 39
Internship information (voluntary)

Wednesday 04-10-2023 08:15 - 04-10-2023 10:00 in week 40
Sustainability, Development and Inequality (GDS, EMGS)

Wednesday 11-10-2023 08:15 - 11-10-2023 10:00 in week 41
Sustainability, Development and Inequality (GDS, EMGS)

Wednesday 25-10-2023 08:15 - 25-10-2023 10:00 in week 43
Sustainability, Development and Inequality (GDS, EMGS)

Tuesday 31-10-2023 10:15 - 31-10-2023 12:00 in week 44
Sustainability, Development and Inequality (GDS, EMGS)

Wednesday 08-11-2023 08:15 - 08-11-2023 10:00 in week 45
Sustainability, Development and Inequality (GDS, EMGS)

Wednesday 15-11-2023 08:15 - 15-11-2023 10:00 in week 46
Sustainability, Development and Inequality (GDS, EMGS)

Wednesday 15-11-2023 10:15 - 15-11-2023 12:00 in week 46
Project work and future employment (voluntary)

Monday 15-01-2024 10:00 - Wednesday 17-01-2024 10:00 in week 03
Sustainability, Development and Inequality - exam

Tuesday 27-02-2024 10:00 - Thursday 29-02-2024 10:00 in week 09
Sustainability, Development and Inequality - reexam