Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world (Streatfield and Karar, 2008). The majority of the population lives in rural areas, and they depend largely on agriculture and agricultural practice. Hence, in the country agriculture is a large and important sector in economy. It provides food to the people and at the same time is one of the major suppliers of local employments. However, in Bangladesh agriculture and agricultural production are usually under pressure due to the increasing demand of food for its huge population. Apart from that, in recent years, the country has exposed to differential impacts of climate change. Particularly, salinization of water and land, increasing phenomena with droughts and temperature variations, sea-level rise, increasing tropical cyclones: all have adverse impacts on agriculture and agriculture dependent communities. In this context of complex bio-physical and social environment, the country needs to adopt modern, climate-resilient agricultural practice, under the larger efforts of ecological modernization. Ecological modernization is a process of structural change in economy, politics and cultural institutions that can directly affect environmental outcomes. Therefore, ecologically modernized societies incorporate principles of environmentalism in the design of institutions to regulate human interactions with nature (Mol and Spaargaren, 2005).
However, it is very important how the countries in the Global South are realizing their efforts on ecological modernization. The concerns for Bangladesh might focus on the ultimate impact on food security and society, and how the local society responds to that.
This case study focuses on a local socio-environmental problem in the southwest Bangladesh to illustrate the coupled nature and interaction of socio-environmental systems. Students will develop their understanding on this localized socio-environmental problem by linking this local problem with issues to global environmental change. In this case, which combines the discussion and interrupted case techniques, students will be provided with an invented story about a farmer’s family and real environmental, economic and social information about the problem. They will discuss in plenum and work in groups, taking different views in role plays. They will collect own data from provided and self-read up literature, collect arguments from different viewpoints and sketch a map to vizualize the ecological and social interactions. At the end, the students should be able to synthesize the social and environmental information, which can help them further understanding of coupled human and natural system with a regional focus on a highly climate-sensitive region in Bangladesh.