HAVANSVAR Humanities Ocean Initiative – NTNU Oceans Pilot on Ethical, Social and Cultural aspects of Ocean Research and Innovation

- A research programme addressing ethical, cultural, communicative, narrative and historic dimensions of ocean related research and innovation.

Technological development changes nature, but thereby we also change human living conditions. There are a number of unanswered questions concerning how we can secure a responsible and sustainable utilisation of ocean resources. These questions are dealt with by extending scientific knowledge of e.g. eco systems and geological conditions, by developing big data systems and autonomous vehicles, by preparing economic feasibility calculations and socio-political analysis of governance. However, it is also important to reflect on how our values and attitudes, and our way of seeing and relating to nature, changes through the development of new technology. Through multidisciplinary, humanities based research, this programme aims to build a platform for new knowledge on ethical, cultural, communicative, narrative and historic conditions for a sustainable ocean research and innovation. 

Ongoing projects at NTNU: 



The oceans are ecologically in peril and a regulatory disaster. While the problems are widely acknowledged, the governance of the sea remains inadequate to address these global and ultifarious challenges. The problems are particularly acute for the area that lies beyond national borders and jurisdiction, what is typically termed the high seas and the deep ocean. The challenges related to the use and regulation of this area are fundamentally shaped and influenced by cultural conditions and perceptions.

This project seeks to chart and analyze how cultural conditions underpin the use of the oceans and to investigate the relationships between the representations, resources and regulations of the high seas and the deep oceans. We approach this through an interdisciplinary effort that links the studies of aesthetical formations with their concomitant implications for legal and regulatory development across historical time and space.

Contact: Prof. Håkon With Andersen, Ass. Prof. Thomas Brandt, Prof. Knut Ove Eliassen


Ethics and social responsibility in deep sea mining research and innovation

Focus of this study will be on normative questions involved in the development of new technology in general, and within deep sea mining in particular. Possible angles include:

  • Corporate social responsibility in situations where companies are involved in the development of socially and environmentally controversial technology.
  • Responsible research and innovation as a way to address social and environmental challenges in research initiatives.
  • Research ethics in the broad sense, in other words the responsibility of researchers and research institutions for the social and environmental consequences of application of the research.

Contact: Associate professor Siri Granum Carson and Professor Bjørn Kåre Myskja; PhD candidate Espen Dyrnes Stabell 


History of subsea mining – legal aspects

This PhD-project will be targeted on the development of the international laws, regulations and state of technologies that are relevant for subsea mining through the last 50-60 years. It will focus on selected critical issues and aim to understand the position of different groups of nations and how they develop and change over time. Of particularly importance will be the concept of Common heritage, the relation to environmental issues and how changes in subsea mining technology influence society.
The strength of an historical study will be to study the changes that have taken place during the last half century with regard to values, interests and possibilities, how they came about and how they influenced the law of the sea. The policies and strategies of the different states and NGOs during the negotiations will be of interest. Of particular importance will be to study the Norwegian government and Parliament strategies and decisions compared to other states.

Contact: Professor Håkon With Andersen; PhD candidate Tirza Meyer



The Ocean giveth and the people taketh away

This project is a cultural study of wrecking as a maritime activity on the islands of Hitra, Frøya and Smøla 1705-1860​. It focuses on how the local inhabitants on these three Norwegian islands handled a shipwreck - how they could perceive the wreckage as a predictable and stable maritime resource, and how they navigated between the legal and illegal salvaging activities. 

Contact: Prof. Svein Ingar Kaldal, Prof. Aud Mikkelsen Tretvik; PhD candidate: Sarah Dahle Hermanstad