Environmental Challenges: Justice in Natural Resource Management

University of Leeds Institutional analysis of natural resources

Target Audience

The course is suitable for anyone with a general interest in justice and environmental decision-making; no previous knowledge or experience is required.

If you are working in environmental management, or wish to learn more about it, this course is designed to support you as a professional. By completing all aspects of the course you will have achieved 14 hours of CPD time.


When looking at different societies and cultures around the world, it is interesting how ubiquitous the principles of justice are. It is part of our human nature to think about equality and consider fairness as something that we do naturally. However, in practical terms, equality is hard to achieve.

This course explores three aspects of justice and applies these to environmental issues surrounding natural resource management around the world. It also introduces the Strategic Environmental Assessment and Terms of Reference.

This course has been accredited by the CPD Certification Service, which means it can be used to provide evidence of your continuing professional development.

Topics will cover:

  • Understand the way that thought experiments can be used to generate fundamental principles.
  • Have knowledge of the two principles of justice used in the Theory of Justice.
  • Be introduced to the approach of John Rawls, often regarded as the greatest moral philosopher of the 20th Century.
  • Understand the difference between economic approaches based on the ‘hidden hand’ of a free market, and institutional economics, in which transaction costs are considered to be important.
  • Appreciate the factors that reduce transaction costs.
  • Be introduced to Douglass North, who is often regarded as the father of modern institutional economics.
  • Understand the practical difficulties of applying the principle of equality to decision-making.
  • Be able to perform a simple test to show how collective modes of choice can be logically inconsistent.
  • Be introduced to Ken Arrow, who demonstrated the difficulty of rational choice in social welfare.
  • Be able to recognise the application of Rawls’ principles of justice to policy.
  • Understand the violation of the second principle of justice when applied to saving for future generations.
  • Appreciate that the solution to intergenerational justice is to have fairness in the present generation.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to:

  • Discuss John Rawls’s principles and theory of justice.
  • Explore institutional economics and transaction costs.
  • Explain Arrow Impossibility and problems with collective decision making.
  • Produce a Terms of Reference for Strategic Environmental Assessment.