New Course! EES 397-Biophysical and Ecological Economics

Need another course for this spring semester? Take EES 397- Biophysical and Ecological Economics!

Earth image

Taught by Dr. Steve Coghlan, Associate Professor of Freshwater Fisheries Ecology, the course will be a three-credit lecture/discussion course that will provide students with the biophysical framework necessary for understanding how real economics operates as metabolic systems on planet Earth. The course will also challenge the institutionalized dogma that promotes economic growth at the expense of ecological integrity and sustainability.

Instructional Objectives: Assigned readings and subsequent class lectures / discussion are designed to strengthen student understanding of the following topics:

  • Historical development of economic theories in the context of human capacity to transform nature to meet their needs and desires
  • Subjecting economic hypotheses to scientific testing
  • Importance of energy, thermodynamics, and entropy in the economic process
  • Biophysical basis of wealth and affluence
  • Limits to growth on a finite planet
  • Ecological, economic, and societal collapse

Student Learning Outcomes: Upon completion of EES 397 / 550, successful students can:

  • Identify the main tenets of classical and neoclassical economic theories and discuss them in the historic context of relations between humans and the environment
  • Describe fatal flaws associated with the circular-flow model of economic activity
  • Provide an alternate perspective of economies as metabolic systems embedded within the ecosphere and subject to natural biophysical laws
  • Explain the importance of energy surplus, energy return on investment, and power in shaping major trends in human history
  • Evaluate implications of current economic policy on the ability of the ecosphere to support complex human civilizations sustainably

 For more information, contact Dr. Steve Coghlan at