Research at the Department of Geography

– Faculty of Social and Educational Sciences (SU)

Mennesker som går over gataOur research covers a broad range of fields across human and physical geography, with further links to other disciplines. We explore the interface between nature and society, and engage in debates on central problems and concepts of the discipline, such as space and place, scale (e.g. the local and the global), and the fundamental issue of structure and agency in the social sciences.

Our research provides relevant and novel insight to the complex challenges our society is facing by an interdisciplinary orientation and a tradition for focused collaboration among the staff (Pdf version of the strategic plan for the Department of Geography). The research is clustered into four interconnected groups:

Natural hazards and the effects of climate change

Climate change may increase the likelihood of natural hazards in many areas, which increases peoples’ vulnerability and ability to cope with such events in different communities. Through working with physical and social geography, we focus on the links between the physical and social world in order to understand what makes individuals and communities vulnerable or resilient, and hence their ability to adapt to changing physical and social conditions. An important tool in this context is the integrated hazard and risk mapping that we perform by combining indices of risk exposure, social vulnerability, and resilience in geographic information systems (GIS). This is also the starting point for research-based visualization to communicate the effects of climate change on communities and what makes them vulnerable or resilient. We also study landscape developments in cold regions, including how such developments are affected by climate change. Our field areas are in Southern Norway and Svalbard, where processes in rivers and the cryosphere change the landscape over different time scales. These processes have created our magnificent mountain and coastal scenery, but they also show the marked effects of climate change, such as glacial recession.


  • Vulnerability, resilience, and adaptation

  • Geomorphology in cold areas

  • Visualization of society and landscape change

Environment, resources, and management

Within this focus area, we conduct research on issues related to the use, management, and conservation of various natural resources. There are four main themes:
1. How resources are conceptualized in different ways and in different contexts, such as landscape, biodiversity, and ecosystem services, and how this shapes differing and often contradictory discourses and practices
2. Owners’ roles and participation in decision-making regarding the use and distribution of resources
3. Water, which is both an essential resource but also causes damage through floods and landslides
4. The management of economically valuable natural resources (high-value resources), such as oil and diamonds, in relation to economic development and security in countries in the Global South.


  • Landscape, biodiversity, and ecosystem services

  • Use and distribution of resources

  • Water as a resource and natural hazard

  • Management of valuable natural resources

Mobility, transnationalism, and inequality

In this focus area, the general perspective is on how mobility and transnational relations create new conditions or premises for exclusion, inclusion, and inequality in different geographical and social contexts. A transnational perspective makes it possible to research how processes affect relationships between places and people nationally, locally, and globally. The focus on mobility elucidates how different groups have different starting points, goals, and goal achievements by crossing different borders and boundaries through migration and new forms of communication. Citizenship involves understanding the importance of participation and belonging between groups and in relation to gender, sexuality, life cycle, and ethnicity.


  • Globalization, development, and transnationalism

  • Migration and mobility

  • Citizenship

Innovation and regional changes

The research field deals with regional and local processes of change, reorganization, and innovation. It emphasizes the interplay between changes in moving and settlement patterns and changes in industry. Sustainable reorganization entails, for example, the need to study regions’ ability to diversify their economic activities and reduce vulnerability in communities. We also study entrepreneurship and innovation in businesses, as well as cultural, social, and green entrepreneurship. Important perspectives are how clusters and innovation systems develop, as well as how businesses, places, and regions are connected to global networks and value chains.

Additionally, we focus on urbanity and rurality, and planning and development strategies, including the importance of culture, experience, and tourism for the development of ‘entrepreneurial’ towns and villages. The significance of the local and the regional is emphasized in all themes, and the gender perspective is central in many of the themes.


  • Sustainable restructuring

  • Entrepreneurship and innovation

  • Urban development, rural development, and perspectives on place

Latest publications

Find our latest publications in the Cristin database.