Università degli Studi di Napoli "Parthenope"

Teaching schedule

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Course of Master's Degree Programme on BIOLOGY FOR SUSTAINABILITY
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First Semester
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Course description

The training objectives of the course are twofold. The first is to provide students with the basic theoretical elements to tackle the study of environmental issues and policies undertaken by international, EU and national institutions for the control of externalities and the achievement of sustainability objectives. The second is to provide students with the theoretical foundations of the circular economy and its practical applications. Circular economy applications are illustrated through the use of experimental results and case studies relating to business models that promote circular growth.


For an adequate understanding of the course contents it is necessary to have acquired and assimilated the fundamental concepts of microeconomics and macroeconomics.


The course is divided into 5 modules, the first three consisting of 12 hours each, the fourth and fifth consisting of 6 hours respectively. In the first module (Economy, environment and development) the possible interactions between the economic system and the environment are examined, focusing attention on the traditional theoretical model and the material balance model in order to highlight the relationship between environmental aspects and economic activities. The issue of development sustainability is addressed through the analysis of the main theoretical approaches, indicators for measurement and operational principles. The second module (Market failure and allocative efficiency problems) deals with the problems relating to the optimal allocation of natural resources with reference to the causes that determine the market failure, externalities and characteristics of public goods and resources with free access that characterize the environmental resources. The third module (The control of externalities: Policies) analyzes the strategies undertaken by the public operator to address the problems of inefficiency in the management of environmental resources. The main public intervention tools are examined: Command and control tools (standards and technical regulations), economic incentive tools (taxes and subsidies, negotiable allowences). The approach based on negotiation between the parties is also analyzed. In the fourth module (Economic value and management of natural resources) natural resources are analyzed with respect to the problems of economic evaluation and related management. The main methods used in empirical analysis to attribute an economic value to environmental resources are illustrated, with specific reference to direct methods (expressed preferences) and indirect methods (revealed preferences). In the fifth module (Circular economy: public policies and business models) theoretical models of the circular economy are addressed in order to analyze and interpret the application models. Environmental policy guidelines defined by the European Community aimed at implementing recycling and circular economy models are also examined.

Interactions between the economic system and the environment. Sustainability of development. Optimal allocation of environmental resources. Market failure: externalities and public goods. Control of negative externalities: policies. Public intervention tools. Methods for evaluating environmental goods and services. Relationships and differences between linear economy, recycling economy and circular economy. Policies for the circular economy undertaken by the EU. Business models to transform the circular economy into a development opportunity.

Teaching Methods

The course is carried out through lectures during which the topics of the program will be analyzed. During the lessons seminar discussions are planned by the students on possible application cases.


Aprile M.C., Chiarini B. (2019) Economia dell’Ambiente. Sostenibilità, politiche e aspetti strategici. Mondadori Università.
Further study material is provided by the teacher during the course.

Learning assessment

The objective of the exam is to assess the level of achievement of the training objectives. The exam includes a structured written test with open questions aimed at assessing the degree of depth of general theoretical knowledge. Students will have to answer the questions demonstrating the ability to expose the technical contents, definitions, and basic notions acquired with their study with appropriate terminology. The written test consists of 5 questions. Each question is awarded a maximum of 6 points for a total of 30. The possibility of honors will be assigned to the student who will show a capacity for critical discussion of the contents acquired, and to have proceeded to an in-depth study of the topics dealt with outside the reference texts. The duration of the written test is set at 100 minutes. There is also the possibility of an oral exam, which becomes compulsory if requested by the teacher for cases of written tests with results at the limit of sufficiency (between 15/30 and 17/30).

More information

Knowledge and understanding: the student has to show that he is able to understand the issues about the use and management of environmental resources; the student has also to show knowledge of the main policy tools used by political institutions at different levels of government (international, EU and national) to ensure a sustainable use of the stock of environmental resources and the tools for analyzing the circular economy necessary for the interpretation of policy interventions and the implementation of business models.
Ability to apply knowledge and understanding: the student has to show the knowledge of the theoretical foundations of the economic approach to environmental problems and to know how to combine them with operational skills, both in the interpretation of specific environmental policy interventions by the appointed institutions and in the understanding of the tools and strategies for the management and recovery of resources, implemented at international and national level.
Independent judgment: the student has to be able to provide an autonomous assessment of environmental issues and to indicate the main policy strategies for regulating the markets in order to achieve the optimal allocation of environmental resources between the different destinations use; the student has also to show the ability to independently evaluate the interpretation of the behavior of the various actors who contribute in a strategic way to defining global environmental problems, and that he has developed a critical spirit through participation in open and transversal debates on the issues established.
Communication skills: the student must have the ability to correctly use economic terminology to dissertate on the topics of the questions of the written test scheduled for the final exam, as well as to present the seminar discussions that will take place during the course. The language used will alternate the technical approach with the more merely informative one, also through simplifications resulting from the demonstration of practical cases.

Learning ability: the student must have acquired a learning ability such as to make him able to obtain updates by consulting texts and scientific publications concerning the issues related to the management of environmental resources in the functioning of the economic system, applicable to subsequent in-depth studies of the university training course.