Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - WINS

Courses and Training

Graduate Course on Institutional Analysis of Social-Ecological Systems

An important objective of WINS is to impart theoretical and methodological knowledge about the institutional study of social-ecological systems (SES). In both the academic semesters there will be a semester-long course which will expose the participants to the key concepts of institutional analysis as especially relevant to the study of SES. Qualified course instructors will hold a weekly session and introduce various important frameworks prevalent in the institutional analysis of SES. The prime approaches which will be discussed from the natural resources and environmental governance sector are: The Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework as developed by Vincent Ostrom and Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom (also known as the Bloomington School approach); the related socio-ecological systems (SES) framework; the transaction cost economics framework as developed in the tradition of Nobel Laureates Ronald Coase and Oliver Williamson; the institutions of sustainability framework (IoS) framework developed by Konrad Hagedorn and colleagues at Humboldt University; the International Environmental Regimes Approach as developed and applied by Oran Young and Timothy Moss; and various Adaptive Systems Heuristics. The key approaches from the tradition of the economic institutions and political governance in the green sectors which will be discussed are: the study of agrarian institutions (Allen, Lueck, Schmitt, Hagedorn); agricultural contracts (Allen & Lueck); agricultural and consumer cooperatives; the political economy of agriculture (Birner, Hagedorn); post-socialist transition of agriculture (Beckmann, Hagedorn, Swinnen); and institutional analysis of forestry (IFRI). It will discuss the potential synergies and incommensurabilities between these approaches as well as the need to reinforce the micro-foundations by emphasizing the actors’ interdependence that is caused by biophysical and technical transactions and transformation as a core element of action situations. The course will also outline the state-of-art methodological approaches used for analyzing SES as per the various extant approaches. 

The course is ideally suited for pre-Ph.D. and Ph.D. candidates as well as visiting scholars from Berlin and Germany and from all around Europe and the world. This course will be helpful in development of research proposals towards the analysis of SES across international social and ecological systems. It will also be useful for those researchers who wish to receive thorough comments and review of their ongoing research projects relevant to WINS. The course will be evaluated and graded as per the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) and those participants who desire credits will have to comply with the minimum requirements in terms of attendance and the assessment criteria. Assessments will be generally based on assignments and a final term paper which will be presented by the participants during a mini-conference at the end of the semester. The exact details of the course structure, syllabus and assessment criteria will be announced at an appropriate moment before the course begins.

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Training Modules at other institutes in the area of institutional analysis or social-ecological systems