Research at the Department of Geography

Research at the Department of Geography

– Faculty of Social and Educational Sciences (SU)

Bilde lærdal

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. The Department of Geography has four thematic priority areas, reflected in both its teaching and research activities:

Our strategic areas:

Climate change increases the likelihood of natural hazards occurring in many areas, which thus makes different communities’ vulnerability and ability to cope with such incidents highly relevant. When focusing on the links between the physical and social world, we use both physical and human geography methods and approaches to understand what makes individuals and societies vulnerable or resilient, and hence their ability to adapt to changes in their physical and social conditions.

In order to investigate the possible effects of climate change, especially sea level rise, and of the pollution of coastal landscapes in Norway, the Arctic and elsewhere, the research focuses particularly on geological measurements of historical mean water levels and mapping microplastics in coastal zones. It also focuses on collaboration with local actors to identify and visualize urgent environmental problems, as well as to increase our collective understanding of how they can be solved.


Major themes within the priority area:

  • Effects of climate change and their visualization through geographical information systems (GIS)
  • Increased understanding of urgent environmental and climate-related problems, and how they can be solved
  • Vulnerability, resilience and adaptation

This priority area will develop new knowledge about how people and communities conceptualize, manage and use nature, resources and landscapes. The area includes research on how nature and natural resources are defined and conceptualized in different ways and different contexts, and how this forms the basis for often contradictory and conflicting discourses and practices. The research approach is political, in that we seek to understand the consequences of such discourses and practices for equitable distribution and inequality, processes of social and economic change, and vulnerability and social protection. The priority area also includes courses on rights-holders’ roles and participation in both formal and informal decision-making processes related to the management and use of biodiversity, oil, and water, as well as nature as an arena for recreation. Research is carried out both in the Global South and the Global North.

Major themes within the priority area: 

  • Use, distribution and conceptualization of nature and natural resources 
  • Management of particularly valuable natural resources 
  • Nature and landscape as arenas for inclusion, participation and democracy

A key perspective in this thematic priority area is how transnational economic relations, cultural interaction, and interdependence between places and people in different parts of the world influence politics and political participation, cooperation, and sustainable development. Special attention is given to social development in the Global South. A geographical perspective is used to provide new knowledge that will contribute to the development and implementation of institutional practices and measures to ensure that groups of people, which for various reasons do not participate in conventional planning processes, are included in decision-making processes. A major theme is how citizenship is emerging as an arena and resource for social and political strategies. The research in this thematic area will contribute to ways of facing the challenges of cultural diversity, social exclusion and democratic deficit.


Major themes within the priority area:

  • Migration and cultural encounters
  • International capital, trade and investment
  • New preconditions for citizenship
  • Collaboration and participation in planning and management processes

Based on economic and cultural geographical perspectives, we study the interfaces between people’s activities, places, and major social processes such as migration, industrial development, urban growth, and rural change. The research focuses on the importance and consequences of innovation, policy and planning for sustainable change, and how people in different communities shape and experience their everyday lives. We also study sustainable changes in businesses and their value chains. We emphasize how business activities, places and regions are linked through global networks and value chains.


Major themes within the priority area:

  • Transition to sustainable cities, communities and industries
  • Entrepreneurship and innovation
  • Urban, rural and regional changes
  • Social inequality, identities and perspectives on place

Latest publications

Latest publications

Find our latest publications in the Cristin database.

Research Projects

PhD Studies

Strategic Plan 2019-2025