Climate and Global Changes in the Age of Sustainable Development

essential information

slides, videos and other material


The activities of the course are scheduled on

  • Tuesdays, from 14.30 to 17.15 in room 7.1.2
  • Wednesdays, from 14.30 to 17.15, only occasionally (with special guests) and online
  • Fridays, from 10.30 to 13.15 in room 9.0.3

Being the course strongly based on the flipped classroom methodology, the specific organization in classes, discussion sessions  (in presence activities) and personal/group activities will be weekly published on the course calendar below. Please keep you updated about it!


office hours

in case of need, please write an e-mail to either or both instructors the week before the requested meeting.

course topics

The course consists of two modules. The first module is specifically focused on Climate change, while the other is mainly devoted to implications of global changes to sustainable development. The two modules are not delivered sequentially, but in parallel because their contents are not separated but intertwined. Climate change is in fact seen here as one of the major global challenges to be faced by humanity in the present era.

Topics of the first module (Climate change) are the following:

  1. Introduction to global environmental change: Understanding environmental change, Historical approaches to environmental change, Current approaches to environmental change, Contemporary patterns of global environmental change
  2. The Earth system – The climate system (radiation and radiative balance- the equilibrium temperature of a planet)
  3. Natural climate change and the ice ages: Milankovich theory.  Climate dynamics and the general circulation of the atmosphere
  4. Natural and anthropogenic climate drivers
  5. Deep Decarbonization Pathway Planning and Mid-Century Strategies- The Three Pillars of Decarbonization
  6. GCM scenarios – Downscaling methods for Climate change impacts evaluation

The second module of the course (Sustainable Development) is delivered using the flipped class methodology. Video-lectures are taken from the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) entitled “The Age of Sustainable Development” by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs (Columbia University), freely available on Coursera. Each week, the students are requested to watch one video and/or study one chapter of the course book, so as to be ready for discussion during the class.

Lectures of the second module (Sustainable development) are

  1. Introduction to sustainable development
  2. An unequal world
  3. A brief history of economic development
  4. Why some countries developed while others stayed poor
  5. Ending extreme poverty
  6. Planetary boundaries
  7. Social inclusion
  8. Education for all
  9. Health for all
  10. Food security
  11. Resilient cities
  12. Saving biodiversity and protecting ecosystem services
  13. Sustainable development goals


see the page above


The exam consists of two parts: an oral presentation and discussion (group work) and a written test (individual work). During the course, the students will be organized in groups (tentatively of three people). A list of topics of interest, as emerging from discussion during each lecture, will be proposed at the beginning of the subsequent class. The group will perform a research on the selected topics based on the available literature, will write a small report (Science or Nature style, max 3 pages) and organize a talk (tentatively 15 minutes). The quality of the work done and the ability of the group to keep the class discussion vivid and alive is part of the evaluation. The written test will instead be performed individually and consists in answering questions and/or solving simple exercises so as to prove the familiarity of the student with the topics of the course.

exams agenda