KULT8123 - Environmental Sustainability and Societal Transformation


Examination arrangement

Examination arrangement: Assignment
Grade: Passed / Not Passed

Evaluation Weighting Duration Grade deviation Examination aids
Assignment 100/100

Course content

For information about planned courses and admission, please see:

This course provides PhD students with concepts and tools to understand what environmental sustainability (ES) is, the kinds of challenges it raises, the actors involved in such issues, and how academics can help initiate societal transformations towards this goal. With an interdisciplinary approach, the course takes the model of strong sustainability as a point of departure, i.e., the biosphere is considered a life-supporting system that restricts and renders possible human activity. Consequently, the course will explore how this affects technological and scientific development, economic issues, policymaking, and the organization of society. Students are introduced to ES with the UN's sustainable development goals as background, to the history of ‘sustainable development’, environmental concerns and environmental movements. The course presents students with critical accounts of the concept of sustainability, including potential controversies between sustainability concerns and the conservation of nature. This includes an introduction to the concept of biodiversity and biodiversity policy as well as to environmental ethics. The course engages with the challenges of providing sustainability measurements, and methods and approaches to assess the sustainability of industrial products and processes and human lifestyles (industrial ecology). The course also provides an overview of theories and approaches to the field of sustainability transitions, including a focus on participation and engagement, innovation, circular economy, and policymaking for sustainable energy, climate mitigation and urban sustainability. Finally, the course will prepare for the writing of individual essays, which, together with participation in the course, forms the course’s formal approval.

Learning outcome

Knowledge: The candidate is able to document a good, critical understanding of the important dimensions and challenges of ES and the concept of sustainability, and how the SDGs can be used as a basis for strategies and actions for change. This includes insight into theories of sustainability transitions and the economic, political, social and ethical challenges involved in such changes. The candidate furthermore shows knowledge of the most relevant environmental systems tools and measurements/indicator methods. Finally, the candidate is able to recognise and reflect upon the political, social and ethical tensions associated with the design and implementation of measures towards sustainable development.

Skills: The candidate is able to formulate research questions related to environmental issues and sustainable development and to explain how theory and methodologies covered in the course can be applied in sustainability strategies. Additionally, the candidate shows a reflexive and inquisitive approach to the subjects of the course and is able to demonstrate and justify how the concepts and tools taught can be used in concrete research work and real-life problems.

General competence: The candidate is able to access distinctive pathways towards sustainable development while showing how and why it is appropriate to apply a multidisciplinary approach to sustainability. The candidate is familiar with the most relevant theoretical and practical frameworks regarding sustainable development and able to argue about their advantages and limitations.

Learning methods and activities

The course is based on a mix of lectures, group work and student presentations, inviting active participation by the students. Students write individual essays that must be evaluated "Accepted" (equivalent to grade B or better) in order to pass the course.

Compulsory assignments

  • Participation

Further on evaluation

The assessment is a written essay where the candidates demonstrate their understanding of theories and methods taught in the course and how it relates to their own discipline or a specific topic or practical application. The essay requirements differ from KULT8124.

Course materials

Selected scientific papers and reports.


Version: 1
Credits:  5.0 SP
Study level: Doctoral degree level


Term no.: 1
Teaching semester:  SPRING 2024

Language of instruction: English

Location: Trondheim

Subject area(s)
  • Environmental and Resource Engineering
  • Science and Technology Studies
  • Environmental Regulation Methods, Population Dynamics
  • Environmental Management
Contact information
Course coordinator:

Department with academic responsibility
Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture


Examination arrangement: Assignment

Term Status code Evaluation Weighting Examination aids Date Time Examination system Room *
Spring ORD Assignment 100/100
Room Building Number of candidates
  • * The location (room) for a written examination is published 3 days before examination date. If more than one room is listed, you will find your room at Studentweb.

For more information regarding registration for examination and examination procedures, see "Innsida - Exams"

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