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Global Change : Climate, Ocean, and Behavior

Master in Life Sciences, ENS
BIO_M2_COB | Global Change : Climate, Ocean, and Behavior
Year and Semester : M2 | S1
Where : ENS, Biology department
Duration : 24 hours
Dates : From October 16 to January 23 on Thursdays, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Maximum class size : 25 students
This course is open to external students. Contact : Roberto Casati including the acronyme [COB] in the message head.


Roberto Casati, Institut Jean Nicod, Department of Cognitive Studies, ENS-EHESS, casati chez




Climate change| Behavioral Change| Ocean.

Course prerequisites

An interest in the main issues of the course, in particular in brakes to behavioral change on a global scale, and in an understanding of the loops between the physical, biological, and human aspects and roles of the ocean.

Course objectives and description

Climate change prevention and mitigation requires behavioral change or reconfiguration of behaviors and policies.
Aims : The goal of this class is to establish a transformational contact between expertise in geoscience and biological sciences and expertise in behavioral and cognitive sciences on environmental issues, in particular as the ocean and marine biodiversity are concerned.
Themes : The course
1) Draws from the life sciences and geosciences to understand what has an impact on climate change (i.e., the causal chains) ;
2) Draws from economics to understand how to regulate and incentivize citizens and firms to go towards what has a positive environmental impact ;
3) Draws from cognitive science to understand the psychological and social side of the needed change (how to understand and change individuals’ and groups’ behavior).

Organisation : The class will meet weekly over the Fall semester. Multiple guest lecturers will be featured.
Invited speakers will intervene in the course. A provisional thematic calendar is below.

October 10 Introduction Can behavior be changed ?
17 One Planet What do we know about the climate-ocean loop ?
24 Listen to Science What does the IPCC do ?
November 7 The ocean begins here Are incentives effective ?
14 Ocean Literacy Does ocean education work ?
21 The Power of Plankton What if there was no plankton ? What is an ecosystem service ?
28 No class PSL Week
December 5 The piscatarian dilemma Can fishing be sustainable ? Can we feed on weeds ?
12 Oceana Are women part of the picture ?
19 Involving Citizens Would you be a seatizen scientist ?
January 9 Who rules the ocean ? Are there alternatives to Marine Protected Areas ?
16 Student Presentations Marketplace session (interventions from ONG, etc.)
23 Student Presentations

Evaluation has two components : weekly questions and comments on a paper to be read (50% of final grade) and an oral presentation (50%).

Course material and mechanics

Readings and slides will be made available to students.
For the weekly assignment, students are expected to send questions on the mandatory reading 24h before class. (<1000 characters in total, including spaces).
The final oral presentation will be a group presentation (2 or 3 students) of an exploratory project on a pre-defined topic, with advising from one of the course instructors. A specific ppt/odp template will be distributed.
A marketplace session will host external contributions (ONG, etc.) or extracurricular projects by students. Everybody is welcome to sign up for a short presentation of their activities.

Course website : moodles, TBA

Suggested readings in relation with the module content

Textbook chapters, articles, reviews