Geographic Perspectives on Sustainability and Human-Environment Systems



About Module 4

In Module 3, we learned some basic ethics principles related to what actions we should take with respect to the environment. In this module, we’ll learn some fundamentals of actually achieving successful (or unsuccessful) actions.

There are two main types of action: individual action and collective action. This module discusses both. In addition, through the Learning Activity, we’ll get some firsthand experience taking individual action. The discussion of collective action will help you work collectively with others on future collaborations in both schoolwork and real life.

Note that a lot of what we’ll learn in this module is applicable to a broad range of actions, not just actions related to the environment. How can you get your roommates to keep your apartment clean? How can societies get everyone to contribute to public services? These topics and many others are informed by the content in Module 4.

What will we learn in Module 4?

By the end of Module 4, you should be able to:

  • explain the difference between individual action and collective action;
  • define collective action problems, as well as specific types of collective action problems: the prisoner's dilemma and the tragedy of the commons;
  • explain the three types of solutions to collective action problems: government regulation, private ownership, and community mobilization;
  • explain the similarities and differences between collective action in face-to-face settings vs. online.

What is due for Module 4?

For specific due dates for Module 4, please refer to Canvas. 

There are several required activities in this module. The chart below provides an overview of the activities for Module 4. For assignment details, refer to the location noted.

Module 4: Lesson Assignments
Requirement Location Submitting Your Work
Reading Assignment: Governing The Commons Solving Collective Action Problems No submission
Learning Activity: Water Tracking and Usage Learning Activity: Water Tracking and Usage Submit in Canvas


If you have any questions, please post them to our Course Q & A discussion forum in Canvas. I will check that discussion forum often to respond. While you are there, feel free to post your own responses if you, too, are able to help out a classmate. If you have a more specific concern, please send me a message through Inbox in Canvas.