Scenario Development and Analysis for Sustainability - IEST5099

Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

School: School of Humanities and Languages

Course Outline: School of Humanities & Languages

Campus: Sydney

Career: Postgraduate

Units of Credit: 6

EFTSL: 0.12500 (more info)

Indicative Contact Hours per Week: 3

CSS Contribution Charge: 2 (more info)

Tuition Fee: See Tuition Fee Schedule

Further Information: See Class Timetable

View course information for previous years.


The global environment is changing at faster speed than ever and the consequences of the unsustainable management of the environment, through poor policy decisions, are more evident today than ever. Decision-making has become far more complex and uncertain, since socio-economic developments are no longer as stable and predictable as in the past and many of the current environmental policy issues are of long-term nature. Designing policy strategies that are robust against a set of different framework conditions over the long term is a key challenge for decision-makers. Scenario development is one way to achieve that.

Scenario development is used in a wide variety of different contexts, ranging from political decision making to business planning, and from global environmental assessments to local community management. Scenario development is important in the policy process, because it supports comprehensive, integrated, long-term, strategic planning, being a valuable tool for policy testing, monitoring, and evaluating results. Scenarios provide holistic system thinking approaches to determine future trends at a relatively low cost.

Scenario development creates a ‘learning space’ for policy-makers, societal stakeholders and scientists. This ‘learning space’ allows for challenging assumptions, thinking about different institutional options and discussing potential robust strategies. Such an approach blurs the boundaries between decision-makers and scholars to a certain extent, as they are engaged in a joint learning process. Successful scenario development at the interface of science and policy is dependent on certain rules that concern mutual trust and openness of thinking among participants, as well as proper engagement of multi-stakeholders and their views.

The proposed course will build the strength of postgraduate students at the University of New South Wales on strategies and tools for improving the interface between science and policy, and on exploring possible future trends that would be more environmentally sustainable. Thus the course will improve students’ understanding of methodological frameworks for developing participatory processes to assess implications of long-term planning in areas such as energy, water, land use and urban planning.
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