Leadership for Sustainable Development | Queen's University Belfast - PEP - Promoting Economic Pluralism
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Leadership for Sustainable Development | Queen’s University Belfast

With increasing recognition of the impact of a world living beyond its means, sustainable development is one of the most challenging and rapidly growing areas in both the public and private sectors. This course trains future leaders, thinkers and change-makers using action-based, experiential learning.

How does the programme provide content to ensure students achieve an understanding of a reasonably diverse set of perspectives on understanding economies?

A range of economic models and perspectives are explicitly taught including orthodox, market-based ecnomics alongside heterodox models such as ecological economics, humanistic economics and post-scarcity economics.

How does the programme ensure students understand the interaction between economic and ecological systems?

Across all taught modules, students are required to understand and evaluate the delicate balance that is required for sustainable economic growth and ecological improvement. Through classical models of environmental valuation, students begin to comprehend the value of the environment to the economy and their inherent interconnectedness, and then in their exploration of alternative models, start to critically evaluate the impact that our past ways of thinking have had, and how we can potentially move forward towards a happy, healthy economy on a thriving planet.

How does the programme ensure students understand how to critically explore real-world evidence, both qualitative and quantitative?

Students are presented with a range of evidence, both quantitative and qualitative, to support the content taught on the course, both directly in economics and across other subject areas. Students then undergo rigourous training in both quantitative and qualitative methods so that they can contribute to the knowledge in their chosen area of interest. 

What pedagogical approaches does the programme use to ensure that students examine the historical context, assumptions and values in all economic thinking?

Our course is firmly rooted in the concepts of education for sustainable development, and we take a balanced yet critical viewpoint on the world around us and the uncomfortable truths of the past. We challenge students to think in systems, anticipate possible, probable and undesirable futures, understand the norms that underlie their behaviours and those of others, think strategically and critically, become self-aware and integrate their problem solving skills into real-world action.

In addition to our highly interactive, participative hands-on lectures, we challenge students to apply knowledge and skills and appreciate different perspectives through policy-making simulations, case study exercises and online discussion boards. Throughout our assessment, students work directly with community and business organisations to undertake projects in community development and social change, and undertake 2-3 work placements with organisations in a range of sectors and activities to experience knowledge in action.

How does the department ensure that the teaching culture and capacity to deliver economic pluralism are continually improving?

We are committed to continous improvement in our programme which involves regular comprehensive reviews of our teaching and content, with feedback welcome from students at all point of the year. Our staff are subject matter experts and thought-leaders in the area of sustainable development who are always undertaking new research and building learning networks of fellow sustainability professionals.

Claire Kilpatrick


The introduction to sustainable development and leadership in the first semester was a really interesting learning experience but the opportunity to really put it into practice during the placements is the best part! The placements mean you can really focus on what interests you the most and get first hand experience while doing a Masters. The course provided so much support for finding a placement and a loads of interesting opportunities within N. Ireland and abroad.

Ruairi Brogan


The course has helped me to challenge what I know about traditional economic theory and growth models. It also taught me about alternative theories such as ecological economics, doughnut economics and post-scarcity economics. There was emphasis on how these models interact with the environment which has helped me to frame problems I have encountered working on placement in Agri-food policy. Overall this was a great introduction to sustainable development.

Ciara Grogan


Prior to commencing the course I had limited knowledge on economic and how economics tied in to sustainable development. The modules in the first half of the year really helped to develop my understanding of economic theories and how the interact with environmental and social issues. Putting the learnt theory in to practice during placement with a local business was possibly the best practice for learning as I now fully understand the role economics plays in sustainable development of businesses.

Jenna Potter


The modules in the first half of the course broadened my knowledge of sustainable development. Particularly the economics modules coming from a business background it was very interesting to see how they all interconnected. The placements in the latter part of the course are a fantastic way to get the experience in an area/career that you see yourself working in. The course brought together likeminded individuals for great discussions and a hope for a more sustainable future.


United Kingdom


Queen's University Belfast

Course name:

Leadership for Sustainable Development


Biological Sciences

Course level:

Taught Masters

Course language:



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Leadership for Sustainable Development | Queen’s University Belfast

Leadership for Sustainable Development

Biological Sciences