This seminar gives a general overview about concepts, methods, instruments, practices and strategies of political ecology as well as about the scientific exploration and the critical, problem-solution-oriented treatment of interrelations between environmental alterations and political, economic and social factors in general. It provides an introduction to:

1. topics and approaches of political ecology in connection with complementary areas of research and teaching regarding the interplay of human societies and ecological environments within established scientific disciplines (like sociology, economics, anthropology and ecology) as well as emerging inter- and transdisciplinary endeavors (like sustainability science, environmental studies or science technology studies);

2. models for exploring the shifting relationship of ecology and society, for understanding the whole range of what is taking place in the anthropocene, and for analyzing crucial patterns and the cumulative dynamics of the advancing socio-ecological crisis;

3. the concept of sustainable development as an alternate vision of civilizational progress, the reasons for its elaboration and necessity, its dimensions and how they interact, as well as in derivative concepts like ecological modernization and eco-social transformation and how they correspond with contrasting strategies like efficiency, sufficiency and consistency;

4. the meaning of socio-cultural constructions of nature, society, the human being and other important entities with reference to different framings of our reality which are leading to distinct word views and competing concepts of what to understand as problems and how to figure out possible solutions for them;

5. international disparities in human development, living conditions and resource consumption, also with respect to processes of global warming and world-wide environmental change and to the question who are the beneficent and affected parties and how to ensure intra- and intergenerational justice;

6. interdependencies between risk, vulnerability, disaster and resilience as crucial phenomena and research streams within the political ecology context of developing and industrial societies;

7. utilization competencies and environmental conflicts (e.g. political struggles about land use, pollution or the degradation of landscapes) as field of scientific research and central concern of public debate with regard to the constellation of winners and losers within the decisive network of human actors, environmental conditions and features dependent to agricultural and industrial economies and technological infrastructures;

8. basic accesses of several social theories and streams of political thought in relation to the socio-ecological crisis and how they explain, in comparison, its genesis, how they develop their criticism and what kind of recommendations they provide;

9. the question of how design, engineering and other professional activities (especially those referring to governance and management and other spheres of decision-making) are involved in these troubles and what they can offer to better our perspective for shaping social change and human ecology.