Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Clean water and sanitation Affordable and clean energy Sustainable cities Responsible consumption and production

Academic Year 2018/2019

Course contents

The course lectures will be held by prof. Paolo Macini (15 hours) and Ezio Mesini (15 hours).

The course is devoted to stimulate the attention of students on the numerous environmental emergencies that mark today's world, making it the most obvious signs of the crisis that is affecting the whole biosphere. The course provides a framework of a general reflection on contemporary ethics (man-nature relationship, application logic for the protection of the biosphere and the rights of future generations, historical and cultural roots of environmental problems, etc..), followed by the analysis of some the most closely related to the design approaches, research and study of the logic of prevention.

In particular, will be discussed:

a) Increase of world population and demographic imbalances. The accentuation of the demographic imbalances between North and South of the urban population and expansion of metropolitan areas.

b) Global warming and climate destabilization. Media debate and confusion of public opinion. A brief history of climate. The anthropogenic interference with the climate. Basic data on increasing the average global temperature.

c) Emissions and enhancement of the greenhouse effect. Greenhouse effect. Estimated emissions of greenhouse gases. Sustainability / unsustainability of fossil fuels. Studies on the correlation between emissions and the greenhouse effect.

d) Availability of energy and environment. Transformation of the global energy market (the gap in energy consumption between the North and South of the world, the energy demand increase, the new consumers (China and India). Decrease of the energy offer: estimates of global fossil reserves. Dependence on energy imports (within the European Union, and particularly in Italy).

e) Reduction in the availability of fresh water. Availability and use of renewable water resources on a global scale: problems and future scenarios. Concerns related to the access to drinking water.

f) From the mid-800 to the ‘40s: the dawn of a new way of looking at nature. ‘50s and ‘60s: a meditation on the "power of technology." From the ‘70s to the present day: a meditation on responsibility and the "risk society". The environmental and social performance as an opportunity for the economy and for the enterprises. The so-called "critical consumption".


Textbook recommended is:

Pozzati P., Palmeri F., Verso la cultura della responsabilità. Ambiente Tecnica Etica, Ed. Ambiente, Milano, 2007.

Other references recommended as lessons support:

Acot P., Storia del clima. Il freddo e la storia passata. Il caldo e la storia futura, Donzelli, Roma - 2011

Beck U., La società del rischio. Verso una seconda modernità, Carrocci editore, Roma - 2000.

Capra F., Il punto di svolta. Scienza, società e cultura emergente, Feltrinelli, Milano - 2008.

Hosle V., Filosofia della crisi ecologica, Einaudi, Torino - 1992.

Jonas H., Principio responsabilità. Un'etica per la civiltà tecnologica, Einaudi, Torino 1997.

Jonas H., Sull'orlo dell'abisso. Conversazioni sul rapporto uomo-natura, Einaudi, Torino - 2000.

McNeill j:, Qualcosa di nuovo sotto al sole. Storia dell'ambiente del XX secolo, Einaudi, Torino - 2002.

Worldwatch Institute (annuari), State of the World, Edizioni Ambiente, Milano.

Teaching methods

Classroom lectures and seminars

Assessment methods

Assessment methods

The exam consists in an oral interview in order to assess the methodological and critical skills acquired by the student. The student will be invited to discuss the topics covered during the lessons.

The achievement of an organic vision of the issues addressed during the classes and their critical use, which demonstrate ownership of a mastery of expression and specific language, will be assessed with marks of excellence. Mechanical and / or mnemonic knowledge of matter, synthesis and analysis of non-articulating and/or correct language but not always appropriate will lead to discrete assessments; training gaps and/or inappropriate language - although in a context of minimal knowledge of the material - will lead to votes that will not exceed the sufficiency. Training gaps, inappropriate language, lack of guidance within the reference materials offered during the course will lead to failed assessments.

Office hours

See the website of Ezio Mesini

See the website of Paolo Macini