Budapest, Hungary

Sustainability Transitions and the Precautionary Principle

when 29 June 2020 - 3 July 2020
language English
duration 1 week
credits 2 EC
fee EUR 900

Due to the covid-19 outbreak, this course has been postponed to 2021.

The school will centrally focus around cross-cutting issues and a subset of case studies from the 'Late Lessons from early warning reports', as well as some additional case studies: nuclear energy legacy in Belarus and Japan, hydropower projects across Europe and Asia, and deep-sea mining. Participants will have to complete course pre-reading (see section on background readings below).

The course will address:

Cross-cutting issues

The precautionary principle: origin, concepts, legal aspects, lessons learned, current stakes;
Social-ecological systems, transformative capacity and long-term transitions to sustainability;
Governance of science and innovation, risk assessment and risk management;
Precaution and sustainability transition: roles and responsibilities of societal actors.
Case studies

Mercury and other chemical brain drainers
Endocrine disruptors and the future for PFASs
Seed dressing systemic insecticides and honeybees
Post-normal science aspects of post-nuclear disaster governance (case of post-Chernobyl)
Hydropower as a case for precaution
The course schedule will alternate between lectures, group work, discussions and individual work around theoretical issues and case studies. Five days, from Monday to Friday, the participants will have access to scheduled one hour tutoring sessions with at least three school faculty members available at each session for consultations. The total course load including tutoring is 48 hours.

As part of their application, participants will be asked to propose a specific research question in relation to the theme of the Course, which they intend to explore in more depth during the School. Upon confirmation of their participation, they will be asked to do some background reading on their question and write a short first essay explaining their "problématique". Addressing such an open question can be somewhat challenging for participants with non-academic background. This will be addressed through a differentiated approach to various target groups of participants (e.g. by expecting outputs of more academic nature from the participants with academic backgrounds), and by tailoring our pre-course work to the needs of specific target groups (e.g. advising practitioners on their problematiques based on their experience and their specific needs).

Course leader

Sybille van den Hove, Bridging for Sustainability, Brussels, Belgium
Jock Martin, European Environmental Agency, Copenhagen, Denmark
Anton Shkarub, Erda RTE, Rijswijk, the Netherlands/Estonian University of Life Sciences, Tartu, Estonia
David Stanners,

Target group

Applications are invited from researchers (advanced PhD students, postdocs) and practitioners from policy-making institutions, NGOs, business and international organizations. Undergraduates will not be considered.

Participants to be selected to the school shall meet the following criteria:

- hold positions at universities, research institutions, consultancies, business, relevant public bodies and administrations (including the European Institutions) or a research-oriented NGO;
- have MSc or PhD degree or equivalent and at least two years of research or professional experience or/and teaching at graduate level;
- be fluent in English;
- have demonstrable achievements in research or in praxis;
- demonstrate good communication skills;
- demonstrate originality and motivation in their application letter.

Course aim

During the course, participants will be organised in 5 groups, each addressing one of the themes of the school. School conveners will ensure that groups are balanced. Participants will contribute to their group building on their competencies and specific background, initial reflections, and their learning during the school. They will also share with other groups and members of faculty throughout the week.

Groups will be working with faculty members each day for a 90 minutes session and for a whole morning on the last day. Additional group work can take place during the integration day. Groups will be asked to present their result to everyone on the last afternoon. As input to their group work, participants of each group will also be asked to prepare summaries of the sessions corresponding to their theme (including the plenary discussions). Progress with the group works will be discussed during the course as appropriate.

The in-school phase is structured around the five themes (see Tentative course schedule). Case studies will be presented and worked on during the whole Course. They will serve to illustrate the lectures and provide practical material for the group works and discussions. Beyond what will be discussed during the week, all case studies in the two 'Late Lessons' volumes are relevant and participants are encouraged to explore those case studies that are of most interest to them.

A lot of the learning will take place through discussions and group work. Participation in these discussions will require some prior knowledge of the issues raised in presentations. To secure this the course participants will get their background reading requirements two months before the course starts.

The further networking of course participants is supported by a designated Facebook group.

Credits info

2 EC
CEU Summer University awards a certificate of attendance upon successful completion of the course. In order to gain this certificate, participants will be expected to attend and actively participate in all classes and complete assignments required by the course.

Fee info

EUR 900: for participants from business, public bodies & administrations and international organisations. An early bird fee option of 820 EUR is available until April 30, 2020.
EUR 450: for participants from academia and NGOs. An early bird fee option of 410 EUR is available until April 30, 2020.


Tuition waivers are available to excellent candidates, especially from developing countries and countries in transition.