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Syllabus for

Academic year
ENM015 - Technical change and the environment
Owner: FIMAS
5,0 Credits (ECTS 7,5)
Grading: TH - Five, Four, Three, Not passed
Level: D

Teaching language: English

Course module   Credit distribution   Examination dates
Sp1 Sp2 Sp3 Sp4 No Sp
0105 Oral examination 5,0 c Grading: TH   5,0 c    

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Professor  Björn Sandén

The course contains theme environment


For single subject courses within Chalmers programmes the same eligibility requirements apply, as to the programme(s) that the course is part of.


The course aims at giving an understanding of how technical change has influenced humankind's relation to Nature and how technical change may help or hinder our ability to deal with environmental problems and resource limitations in the coming century. The course gives knowledge of historical technical change and current trends and makes the student familiar with different theoretical frameworks and tools that can be used to analyse the dynamics of technical change. For the engineering student the course puts technology development into a social and environmental context. For students in environmental sciences the course provides a deeper understanding of technical and social change as a source of environmental degradation and improvement. For students in social sciences, the course tries to uncover how history, economy and policy are fundamentally linked to technology and the environment.


After the course the student should
  • ...have a deeper knowledge of the historical relation between society, technology and nature
  • ...have expanded her/his technological imagination
  • able to use concepts from the literature on technical change
  • familiar with some basic theories and models of technical change
  • able to use this knowledge to critically examine environmental policy, strategies and assessments.


    The first part of the course puts the current industrial society into a historical context. A 10 000 year history of the relationships between Technology, Society and Nature is briefly explored and the evolution of the industrial society is studied in more detail. In the second part, different theoretical frameworks that can be used to understand the process of technical change are discussed, including economics of innovation and historical and social studies of technology. The third part deals with how an understanding of technical change can be used in future studies and environmental policy design, in particular climate policy.


    The course is organized as a series of lectures and seminars. The lectures present selected parts of the literature and complement the literature with additionalmaterial. At the seminars, some topics are discussed in greater detail. These seminars are compulsory. Written assignments are given during the course.


    Grübler, Arnulf, Technology and global change, Cambridge University Press
    Ponting, Clive, A green history of the world, Penguin Books
    Additional handouts


    Written assignments and oral examination

  • Page manager Published: Thu 03 Nov 2022.