37382 - Environmental, Political and Economic Management Systems

Course Unit Page


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

Affordable and clean energy Sustainable cities Responsible consumption and production Climate Action

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student has aquired adequate skills for system modelling and has acquired the capacity to represent relationships of the system components with the purpose to manage the investigated system. The student knows the economic and political instruments for environmental management. He will be able to set up a life cycle assessment study of a product and to distinguish among those tools applying the life cycle thinking aiming to analyse and certify the environmental management of products, processes and services.

Course contents

The course is organised in 2 modules.

In MODULE 1 (M1) focus will be placed on "understanding systems for managing purposes". Systems evolving in time will be studied starting from system representation and formalisation through the system dynamic technique.  Laboratory will be based on a fit-on-purpose software. Systems studies will serve the basis to introduce theory of Environmental Economy and Policies: goods value, production cost, market price, externalities will lead to acquire basic notions of Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA). The student will be introduced to different policies such as taxes and subsidies and to discounting operations.

MODULE 2 (M2) will be based on the Life Cycle Thinking approach and its main tool: the Life Cycle Assessment according to the ISO standard ISO14040. This will include: characterisation methods like mid-point and end-point, the USEtox method to compute the characterisation factors of hazardous substances for the health and the environment and uncertainty in LCA. A comparative analysis between health risk and LCA will be presented along with other LCT tools: the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF), the Organisation Environmental Footprint (OEF), ECOLABEL and the Environmental Product Declaration, the Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA).Gabi software practice in the laboratory of informatics.


The course of instruction is made of manifold disciplines and topics which are not covered in one or few monographs. It is highly recommended to use the material provided by the teacher.

Beside the teaching material the following books and resources are suggested. 

  1. Martín García, Juan - Theory and Practical Exercises of System Dynamics: Book for students and research to learn the applications of nonlinear and feedback control simulation models. (System Thinking 2019)
  2. Vincenzo Vita, Compendio di Microeconomia, Edizioni Simone
  3. Wainwright, John, and Mark Mulligan, eds. Environmental modelling: finding simplicity in complexity. John Wiley & Sons, 2005.
  4. Hannon, Bruce, and Matthias Ruth. Dynamic modeling. Springer Science & Business Media, 2001.
  5. Hannon, Bruce, and Matthias Ruth. Dynamic modeling of economic systems. Springer Science & Business Media, 2012.
  6. McDowell, Moore, et al.Principles of economics: European edition. University College Dublin, 2006. APA
  7. King, Stephen, et al.Principles of economics. 2012. APA

Further reference and insights can be found here: 

  1. Open Courses del MIT
  2. Turner R.K., Pearce D.W., Bateman I. (2003) Economia ambientale, (a cura di Pellizzari F.), il Mulino, Bologna.
  3. http://www.systems-thinking.org/

Teaching methods

The course consists of two modules and the teaching is held by professors Marazza and Righi with the occasional contribution of the collaborators for practice and laboratory: Enrico Balugani, Filippo Baioli, Luciano Vogli. Numerous and different learning tools will be used such as: analysis of case studies, guided discussions, individual and group work and lectures. Lectures will be carried out with the aim of transferring knowledge and focusing attention on key points. The experimental activities will have the aim of consolidating and applying the principles and tools studied in the course. A dedicated laboratory is provided for the modeling of dynamic systems. Attendance - especially laboratory and practice - is important to have a full understanding of the topic.

Assessment methods

The learning evaluation aims to assess the achievement of the learning outcomes (see above "Learning outcomes").

The evaluation criteria include:

  • the ability to examine and resolve questions during oral examination,
  • the practical capacity in system modelling
  • the accuracy and appropriateness of the language used for both content and form,
  • argumentation and critical discussion of the concepts expressed
  • contribution to the discussion in class and on IOL forum and attendance at lectures and seminars

The exams consist of answering open questions during an oral test.

As for M2, practice is a pre-requisite to ask for a LCA thesis.

The Grade is the ponderated average of the grades obtained as for M1 (70%) and M2 (30%).

Students will also be given a list of specific goals for the exam preparation.

Grades are given on a basis of 30, with possible laude (30+laude=33).

Note for working students and non-attending students: working students and students unable to attend are invited to notify and justify this condition by a written note to drop to the teachers.

Teaching tools

Beamer, PC, blackboard.


Vensim https://vensim.com/free-download/

 Gabi Education http://www.gabi-software.com/international/software/gabi-universities/gabi-education-free/

Office hours

See the website of Diego Marazza

See the website of Serena Righi