Introduction to Ecological Economics The Human Sub-System

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Introduction to Ecological Economics

The Human Sub-System

Module Topic: Microeconomics



Course Learning Outcome(s)

  1. Formulate a whole system approach to the human subsystem structure and function.



Module Outcome(s):

  1. Critique neoclassical theories of microeconomics from empirical validity of underlying assumptions to desirability of theoretical outcomes.


  1. Complete assigned sub-modules

    1. Human behavior and its relevance to resource allocation

    2. Markets and price theory

    3. Market failure

  2. Complete assigned project work:

    1. Reading on breaking down the problem.

    2. Sketch out a decision hierarchy diagram

    3. Define the optimal scale for activities related to your problem.

    4. Prepare a problem statement

  3. Complete assigned integrative project work:

    1. Return to the exercise on resource characteristics and state of knowledge, assigned as part of the introductory module. Explain how you think the resource characteristics might influence how they should be allocated (i.e. competitively or cooperatively). Now apply your explanation to the specific resources relevant to your project.

    2. Read the case study on eflornithine. Now, using your project as a case study, can you identify a situation in which the market is functioning as intended, but the desirability of the results is questionable? Specifically, explain how the market allocates factors of production to an industry or activity that many would consider less socially desirable, and how it fails to allocate the final product to the consumers who need it most. If this is irrelevant to your specific problem, look to current events for an example.

    3. Explain the market failures associated with the resources relevant to your problem.

Self Check:

See individual sub-modules

Submit as Proof(s) of Learning:

See individual sub-modules

For more information about this module and its contents, contact your instructor.


At the end of this section you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • How do humans behave, and what is the relevance of human behavior to resource allocation?

  • When and how do markets work?

  • When and why do markets fail to work?

See individual sub-modules for more specific questions.

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