SOS3522 - Climate, Environment and Sustainable Societies


Lessons are not given in the academic year 2023/2024

Course content

Climate change and environmental damage are seen as a major societal challenge of our time. How can changes in environmental awareness be explained? What stimulates and prevents participation, social change, and the great societal shifts that are needed? What do climate change and policies mean for social inequality, power relations, and social life? How is climate change communicated?

In this course, students learn environmental and climate sociology. The course provides an introduction to the subject's history, different traditions and discusses where we in the Norwegian environmental sociology stand today. The course problematizes different understandings of nature, from the wild and untouched to the one that is shaped by the humans. We discuss the many roles of science related to nature, climate and the environment, and the inherent controversies of the concept of sustainability and sustainability goals. The students learn about how values affect the understanding of climate and environment, theory about how society can change, and how change can be understood as the interplay between individuals' practices, social structure and politics.

Many environmental and climate-related issues are marked by controversy. There are different views on what the problem really is, if something is a problem and if so, how it should be handled. Various actors participate in the debate, and an analytical gaze is needed to understand their interests, concerns and positions. We go in depth on what can be understood as sustainable food production, social inequality and energy change, and climate communication. Inspired by the qualitative method "situation analysis", students gradually learn to analyze a controversy at the interface between environment/ climate, society, science, and politics, based on the media debate and previous research. The research-based teaching integrates academic content with method training.

Overall, the course provides students with both theoretical and analytical competence and practical tools for working with climate and environmental issues in a broad field of practice, both within and outside academia.

Learning outcome

Knowledge - the student:

  • has in-depth knowledge of the sociology's approach to the relationship between human and nature.
  • understands how different knowledge regimes compete and cooperate within the climate and environmental field.
  • has in depth insight into the concept of sustainability, the sustainability goals and goal conflicts related to the fulfillment of these.
  • can formulate and analyze sociologically relevant issues about climate, sustainability and the environment, and organize the climate debate within academic discussions.
  • can apply sociological theories about social practice, citizenship, governance and democracy, science and politics, and social change.

Skills - the student shall demonstrate the ability to:

  • develop a project within a current climate and environment-related public debate, and communicate this in writing and orally.
  • independently analyze and discuss a topic that is addressed in the course and convey this in academic written form.
  • reflect orally on the perspectives presented in the course and his/ her own work in the course.

Learning methods and activities

Lectures and seminars 4 hours per week. Attendance is mandatory at 80 % of the lectures/seminars.

Compulsory assignments

  • 80 % participation in lectures/seminars

Further on evaluation

The portfolio assessment consists of:

- Groupbased research assignment with oral presentation and project report (counts 40 % of the grade).

- Individual assignment (counts 60 % of the grade). There is a free choice of theme. Students in the Master's program in Media, Communication and Information Technology have to choose a communication or media-oriented assignment.

An overall grade on the portfolio is given. Both of the assignments must be retaken if the exam is repeated. If the exam is repeated, the groupbased project report kan be written individually.

Required previous knowledge

60 credits including SOS1002 or an equivalent course in research methods. The requirement must be fulfilled to be admitted to the course.

Course materials

To be decided at the beginning of the semester.

Credit reductions

Course code Reduction From To
SOS8538 10.0 AUTUMN 2022
More on the course



Version: 1
Credits:  15.0 SP
Study level: Second degree level



Language of instruction: Norwegian

Location: Trondheim

Subject area(s)
  • Social Sciences
  • Sociology
  • Political Science
Contact information

Department with academic responsibility
Department of Sociology and Political Science


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