University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
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TITLE The Environment: Issues and Challenges

LEVEL I - Introductory Level


DEPARTMENT Centre for the Liberal Arts and Sciences

DESCRIPTION Participants will be presented with Malta’s unique socio-economic setting focusing on land as a limited resource. The Unit will include an analysis of terrestrial issues, such as the construction industry and land development, land degradation practices and pressures including trapping, hunting, land reclamation for agricultural purposes and at sea, and off-roading. Participants will also be given the opportunity to explore possible solutions to environmental issues tackled and to explore future scenarios through proposals to amend existing environmental legislation (such as the proposed ODZ policy changes). The role of civil society and NGOs will be examined. The Unit will introduce participants to the need to conserve land resources in accordance to the ecological, landscape, agricultural, recreational or cultural value it carries as well as instruments and policies adopted for the protection of such sites, eg. Natura 2000 sites and Special Areas of Conservation.

Furthermore, the Unit will address issues that deal with the management of marine and coastal environments, as well as the public’s right to access public land and the right to access of environmental information. Overall, through this Unit, students will be able to contextualize land issues within the fundamental principles of sustainable development. The Unit material will be delivered in such a way that it is accessible and comprehensible to participants hailing from different academic backgrounds and will involve two field visits which are tailored so as to complement and show-case perfectly some of the theoretical material covered in class.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the Unit the student will be able to:
- Report on the cardinal environmental issues and challenges experienced in the Maltese Islands;
- Explain the putative impact that a number of human activities have on the terrestrial and marine environment;
- Demonstrate in a field visit situation operational human activities having a considerable impact on the surrounding environment and identify possible mitigation measures which could rectify such an impact;
- Describe the scientific and social-economic context behind salient environmental issues;
- List the challenges facing the achievement of good environmental status in the Maltese Islands.

2. Skills:

By the end of the Unit the student will be able to:
- List the living (e.g. biodiversity) and non-living (e.g. groundwater) resources within the Maltese Islands which are being impacted by ongoing human activities;
- Compare the obligations of different local, regional and EU environmental legislation and to assess the success of the Maltese Islands in implementing and enforcing such legislation;
- Assess and evaluate the effectiveness of changes in human behavior aiming to reverse environmental decline (e.g. recycling);
- Analyze the role local media has in projecting environmental issues and the degree of convergence between reality and human perceptions of such issues.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

- State of the Environment Report 2005. (
- A Sustainable Development Strategy for the Maltese Islands 2006-2016. (NCSD report
- Brundtland G. H. (1989) Our Common Future: The World Commission on Environment and Development. N.Y.: Oxford University Press.
- Carson Rachel, Silent Spring, Mariner books, 40th anniversary edition, 2002.
- Cunningham W., et al, Environmental Science, a global concern. McGraw Hill, 9th Edition, 2005.
- Pace P., (1997). Environmental Education in Malta: trends and challenges Environmental Education Research, 1(1), pp. 69-82.
- Palmer J.A., (1998). Environmental Education in the 21st Century. Routledge, London.
- Scott WAH & Gough SR (2003) Sustainable Development and Learning: framing the issues; London/New York: RoutledgeFalmer.
- MEPA’s Housing policy paper (from Structure Pan review exercise).
- Energy policy for the Maltese Islands.
- Waste management policy for the Maltese Islands.
- Proceedings of National Awareness Seminar on Desertification and Land Degradation (FIS, 1998).
- Additional Reading pack compiled by lecturer.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Fieldwork

Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Victor Axiak
Alfred E. Baldacchino
Marco Cremona
Alan Deidun (Co-ord.)
Raymond M. Ellul
Andreina Fenech Farrugia
Adrian Mallia
Andrew Mallia
Carmen Mifsud
Deborah Mifsud
Colette Sciberras

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
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