82275 - Rural Development and Bioenergy Economics and Policy Laboratory

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Matteo Vittuari

  • Learning modules Matteo Vittuari (Modulo 1)
    Thomas Johnson (Modulo 2)

  • Credits 3

  • SSD AGR/01

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures (Modulo 1)
    Traditional lectures (Modulo 2)

  • Language English

  • Campus of Forli

  • Degree Programme Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Economics and management (cod. 9203)

  • Teaching resources on Virtuale


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 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The course reviews the political and economic landscape of rural and bioenergy development and addresses the major challenges for a sustainable management of integrated bioenergy systems. At the end of the integrated course the student is able to: - identify the different stakeholders operating in the rural and bioenergy sectors; - understand territorial capital and its role in local economic development; - define and analyze the tools and strategies that characterize a rural development policy; - identify and evaluate integrated bioenergy systems; - analyze the energy needs and performances, the regulatory policies, and the market opportunities; - understand the relationship between different public policies aimed at addressing the relationship between land, energy, food and society; - develop and manage bioenergy plans based on sustainability criteria addressing the economic, social and environmental impacts of integrated bioenergy systems.

Course contents

Setting the context (4 hours)

What is rural? What is rural policy? What is rural development policy? Rural urban relations; Centralized and decentralized governments and responsibility for rural policy; The impacts of population change on rural society and economy; Social and economic equality; Agriculture, peasants and farming families in rural communities; Small ­scale agriculture in the rural economy.

Economic transformations and change in rural areas (4 hours)

Understanding the determinants of rural growth; Multifunctionality and rural diversification; Territorial capital and its role in local economic development; Changing dynamics of rural labour markets; Rural Non­farm Employment; Rural entrepreneurship and innovation; Rural development opportunities in the bioeconomy.

Rural resource management (2 hours)

Geographical, environmental, business, social, economic and political issues which affect and impact on the rural environment and on the ability to manage natural resources in a sustainable manner; Land use; Natural resources grabbing.

The European approach to rural development (2 hours)

The evolution of the European rural development policy: rural history, property ownership, class formation, demography and politics.

The North American approach to rural development (2 hours)

The evolution of rural development policy in North America: rural history, property ownership, class formation, demography and politics.

Introduction to energy economics (6 hours)

Energy and development; Basic energy concepts (definition, forms, measures) and role of energy in the economic system; Energy supply and demand, energy balance, market failures; The international energy market.

Rural development and bioenergy (8 hours)

Introduction to bioenergy: regulatory, technical and energetic issues; Bioenergy policy: objectives and tools; The soil, food, water and energy nexus; Life cycle thinking for bioenergy systems and policies; Social acceptance of bioenergy.

Emerging issues for rural and bioenergy policies (2 hours)

The future of rural areas; Bioenergy: how much can we expect for 2050?


Andreas Goldthau, The handbook of global energy policy, Wiley-Blackwell, 2013 (Chapters 4, 16, 18, 22, Conclusion)

Mark Shucksmith, David L. Brown. Routledge International Handbook of Rural Studies, Routledge, 2016 (Chapters 15, 16, 19, 43, 50, 51, 54, 55)

Specific readings will be provided by the lectuers during class.

Teaching methods

Front loaded and active learning methodologies; group and individual exercises; seminars and case studies.

Assessment methods

Students who attended at least 70% of the lectures will be required to produce a review/policy paper of around 3500 words. A concept note of the review/policy paper will be presented and discussed during the class. The final version of the policy paper will be presented and discussed during the exam after the end of the class. The paper should be submitted at least three working days in advance.

The final grade for the module will be calculated thusly:

  • In class grade: policy brief, case analysis, articles revision and discussion, and other class activities (40% approximately)
  • Policy paper preparation and discussion (60% approximately)

Non attending students will be requested to take an oral exam and to produce a review/policy paper of around 3500 words. The review/policy paper will be presented and discussed with the lecturer. The oral exam will start from the discussion on the paper and it will consist of questions related to the course material. The topic of the policy paper should be agreed with the lecturer.

The final grade will be calculated thusly:

  • Policy paper preparation and discussion (40% approximately)
  • Oral (60% approximately)

Teaching tools

Laptop, beamer, flipchart, others.

Office hours

See the website of Matteo Vittuari

See the website of Thomas Johnson