An Introduction to Ecological Economics: Biophysical Foundations and the Human Subsystem

The transdisciplinary field of Ecological Economics is not so much a branch of economics as it is an ecological view of the economic system. The basic premise of ecological economics is that the economy-embedded-in-society is a continually evolving physical subsystem of a complex, finite global ecosystem, subject to the laws of physics and ecology. Humans evolved as social animals— persons-in-community capable of a wide range of behaviours ranging from pure self-interest to altruism, and do not satisfy conventional axioms of pure rationality. The goals of ecological economics are ecological sustainability, just distribution, and allocative efficiency, where the latter is defined as the greatest level of well-being obtainable from sustainable levels of throughput, or alternatively as the lowest level of throughput capable of providing an acceptable level of well-being. These presentations are intended to introduce the field to those who are interested, but who have not studied it in depth. With the exception of an introduction by UVM professor Joshua Farley, all of the presentations were delivered by students in the Economics for the Anthropocene program at McGill University, the University of Vermont, and York University. Similar sessions in future Ecological Economics conferences will allow us to gradually build a video library that includes most of the core concepts in the field. The presentations cover the following topics:

Introduction to Ecological Economics by Joshua Farley (UVM)
Ecosystem Goods and Services: Core Concepts and Controversies by Alison Adams (UVM)
Energy in Ecological Economics by Ben Dube (UVM)
Energy: There is no Nuclear Option by Sam Bliss (UVM)
Sustainable Scale: Weak vs. Strong Sustainability by Claire H. Heese-Boutin
Economics, Ethics and Human Behaviour by Alice Damiano (McGill)
Degrowth by Sam Bliss (UVM)
Ecological macroeconomics: An Introduction and Research Agenda by Joe Ament (UVM)
Epistemological Complexity, Methodological Pluralism and Ecological Economics by David Mallery

Please click here to view the presentations.

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