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Many of the decisions we make have implications for our environment, particularly those concerning natural resources and waste. Taking account of environmental factors in decision making can be both complex and challenging. This free course, Introducing environmental decision making, considers decisions in their broader contexts and advocates a systems approach to environmental decision making.
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- recognise and explain some different approaches to decision making
- recognise and explain some major factors that influence decision making
- recognise and explain what is understood by environmental decision making and several key concepts that are relevant to it
- recognise and explain how to identify some environmental issues that are of interest or concern and explain why
- recognise and explain what the authors of the course mean by a system, its boundary and environment.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Introduction to decision making
- 2 What do we mean by environmental decision making?
- 2.1 Concepts of environment
- 2.2 Environment and system
- 2.3 Characterising environmental decisions
- 2.4 Environmental decision making in the context of sustainable development
- 2.5 Sustainable development
- 3 Values, power and evolving discourse in environmental decision making
- 4 Your experience of decision making and environmental decision making
- 5 ‘Freedom to fly?’ A case study in aviation expansion
- 5.1 Introduction
- 5.2 The need for an ‘Aviation White Paper’
- 5.3 The process leading up to the publication of the UK December 2003 Aviation White Paper
- 5.3.1 Structuring the decision-making process
- 5.3.2 How much airport capacity?
- 5.3.3 How will the environmental impact be mitigated or paid for?
- 5.3.4 Response to national consultation
- 5.3.5 Where should the new airport capacity be located?
- 5.3.6 The SERAS process
- 5.3.7 Regional consultation on airport expansion
- 5.4 The December 2003 Aviation White Paper
- 5.5 Reaction to the Aviation White Paper
- 5.6 The future
- 6 The T863 framework for environmental decision making
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
Introducing environmental decision making
We all make decisions in everyday life, both as individuals and in groups. These range from simple – for example, choosing what to eat, which route to take to work, which products to buy in the shop – to complex decisions about changing jobs, moving house, choosing schools and participating as a member of a local community in planning decisions and improvements.
What processes do we go through in making these decisions about different possible courses of action? Are they the same every time? Are they the same for everyone?
Just as there are different types of decision, there are also different approaches to decision making that are relevant in different circumstances.
Some decisions are made rationally and logically, while others are made more instinctively or less consciously, sometimes based on the smooth performance of a practised skill. Yet others appear not to be made intentionally at all, but are dictated by sudden changes in knowledge or circumstances – for example, when trying to decide between one route and another and finding that one way is blocked. In practice, other options may still be available but it appears as though the decision has been made for you. Variation in choice may also mean that one person has a decision to make and another does not. (My examples, above, of choosing what to eat or buy assume that I have a choice.)
Individuals and groups also have different preferences for how they make decisions and articulate what they do. Decision making is, at times, such a dynamic process that it can be difficult to tell whether a decision is being made or not. Whether we are directly involved in decision making (and in what capacity) or how we are affected by decisions others appear to have made, also affects our perspectives on decision making.
This OpenLearn course provides a sample of level 3 study in
This free course includes adapted extracts from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Nature & Environment courses or view the range of currently available OU Nature & Environment courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Wednesday, 23rd March 2016
Last updated on: Wednesday, 23rd March 2016
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
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